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Old 10th October 2019, 04:10 AM   #41
HansMustermann
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To discuss the whole recurring "but QUANTUM MECHANICS!" thing in such threads, though:

That doesn't say they're not real. Those Dirac equations by which stuff can transform to energy and back are actually very very real, and so are the particles taking part. When a photon "transforms" into a particle-antiparticle pair or viceversa, the photon and the two particles are very real.

What it does say is that your senses don't work at that level. The things you see at macro level are made of smaller stuff that you don't see. E.g., if you look at something black, you don't see the electrons absorbing visible photons, being bumped to a higher orbit, and then re-emitting it as infrared as they fall back to their old orbit. You just see the macro version where a blob of space is occupied by something dark.

But that doesn't make the smaller parts that you don't see be anything else than real.

If you want an analogy, imagine standing on the moon and looking at the Earth for a day or so. You can see the bright dots appearing on the Earth where cities get into the dark zone and people turn on the lights. But you can't see the individual people flipping on the light switch. Hell, you can't even see the streets or whole blocks in those cities. Because your eyes don't have that kind of resolution.

But just because they're too small to see them, doesn't make those people non-real or anything.
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Old 10th October 2019, 06:02 AM   #42
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We get such questions constantly on Quora... Which I consider carrying Solipsism to the level of absurdity.
I normally point out that the universe existed for billions of years before it was even remotely possible for anything to be alive, much less capable of perceiving anything.

For a very long time, there was nothing much more complex than a hydrogen or helium atom.

One of my favorite quotes...”If we generate reality with our minds, what did the universe look like when there was nothing more evolved than a sea slug?”
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Old 10th October 2019, 06:52 AM   #43
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Oh, to the OP:

Is reality real? I think so. It certainly gives you some nasty bruises if you don't treat it as real.

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Old 10th October 2019, 07:01 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by Bikewer View Post
We get such questions constantly on Quora... Which I consider carrying Solipsism to the level of absurdity.
I normally point out that the universe existed for billions of years before it was even remotely possible for anything to be alive, much less capable of perceiving anything.

For a very long time, there was nothing much more complex than a hydrogen or helium atom.

One of my favorite quotes...”If we generate reality with our minds, what did the universe look like when there was nothing more evolved than a sea slug?”
A solipsist would reply that the evidence you cite for an old universe is the same as the evidence you cite for physical stuff existing today, namely your perceptions. If we are doubting the reliability of our perceptions, then we must also doubt that the universe is old.

In short, this argument begs the question.
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Old 10th October 2019, 07:13 AM   #45
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I hope it's real. It's where I keep all my stuff.
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Old 10th October 2019, 07:22 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
I hope it's real. It's where I keep all my stuff.
Diversify, man. What are you thinking?
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Old 10th October 2019, 07:45 AM   #47
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I love phiwum because he uses "begs the question" correctly, the old-fashioned way.
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Old 10th October 2019, 07:49 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
I love phiwum because he uses "begs the question" correctly, the old-fashioned way.
Agreed. It rankles me when people say "begs the question" when they mean 'raises the question."
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Old 10th October 2019, 07:55 AM   #49
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Too bad it's probably going to end up in the same bucket as "axe" and "literally".

And probably "enormity".
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Old 10th October 2019, 10:09 AM   #50
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Scorpion, you might be interested in a conversation from a few years ago between user Limbo and me on this topic. You were a member at the time, but you weren't in that thread, so you may or may not have noticed it. (The thread's title, "Religion is to God as Sci-Fi is to Science," doesn't make it sound very promising.)

The relevant exchange begins on page 4, specifically with this post:

Originally Posted by Myriad
The word "real," like the word "believe," is one of those words that's all the more troublesome because everyone thinks they have a very clear and consensual sense of what it means. When a rationalist says that something is real, it generally means that that thing can withstand a certain amount of empirical poking and prodding, including verification by others. However, when push comes to shove, most will admit that we do not have any grip on absolute reality, but instead, various (though often extremely reliable) models. Something that's not real, then, is something that is unnecessary in the best available models of the world.

The world does include subjective experiences. If I dream of an elephant, that dreamed elephant might be more immediate and important to me than a living breathing elephant in some zoo a hundred miles away. So, why when children have bad dreams about monsters do we tell them, "it's not real?" That's just slightly lazy shorthand for, "it does not have the property of persistence that physical creatures have" or "it cannot hurt you in the ways that a physical animal could hurt you."

When it comes right down to it, though, a devoted physicalist must acknowledge that the dream elephant must indeed be just as real as the elephant in the zoo. Both are composed of dynamically changing elements (neural impulses in one case, molecules in another) interacting in extremely complex ways; both are transient; both are applied the descriptor "elephant" based on meeting socially agreed upon descriptive criteria. To say that the mental image of an elephant that my brain really did form is some special category of thing that doesn't really exist materially would actually be a vestige of the Cartesian dualism that a physicalist rejects. But, its acceptable, and in fact quite expected, that the zoo elephant and the dream elephant will have some very different properties. One of them, for instance, tends to persist for many orders of magnitude longer than the other. Only one can eat material peanuts. Only one can be observed by several different people simultaneously, barring some very sophisticated instrumentation that might be developed in the future. Neither of them can necessarily fly, but if one is observed to fly (or talk, etc.), we know which one it must be.

I have no objection to your claim that the paranormal and the unknown forces of reality are part of many shamens' experience (I'm less certain about that being "universal"). Just as my dream elephant is part of my experience. All things paranormal seem, in fact, as far as I can tell, to be matters of various people's experience.

But having acknowledged that, as with the elephants, we can then ask about the properties of those experienced things. Can the shaman's experience of seeing animals by remote viewing help the tribe hunt? Yes! Hunting is an inherently uncertain venture requiring cooperation and some degree of enthusiasm, and hunters who have a shaman's assurance that game has been remote-viewed in some place or another are more likely to be able to work together on a course of action conducive to hunting success, whether or not the shaman's assurance is accurate. It's even more helpful if the shaman actually has an intuitive perception of the patterns of movement of game animals that, when elicited by the mental exercise or ritual of remote viewing, actually does produce better than chance accuracy of predicting where to find game.

Does any of this mean that the shaman can see physical game animals at a remote physical location without visual line of sight? No. No observation of the world to date requires a model in which that is the case. A shaman (or anyone at all) actually passing a test of remote viewing ability such as the JREF conducts on claims of paranormal ability would require such a model (and therefore the rethinking and recasting of a great many existing models), but the shaman's experience of remote viewing and the tribe's experience of it being helpful does not accomplish that, any more than my experience of seeing my dream elephant fire cannonballs from its trunk means that the elephants at the zoo can fire cannonballs from their trunks...

You can fairly easily follow the subsequent exchange through the remainder of the thread by searching for my username in your browser. Limbo didn't stick around, but I'll respond to any comments or questions you have about any of those posts.
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Old 10th October 2019, 11:26 AM   #51
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
Illusion of pain? Good to know that when we think we are experiencing pain that we are not really experiencing pain.
Illusionary Pain hurts just as much as Real Pain...
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Old 10th October 2019, 05:47 PM   #52
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It's nothing to get hung about.
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Old 10th October 2019, 06:19 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
I love phiwum because he uses "begs the question" correctly, the old-fashioned way.
Thank you. Misuse of that phrase sticks in my craw.
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Old 10th October 2019, 07:15 PM   #54
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Originally Posted by phiwum View Post
A solipsist would reply that the evidence you cite for an old universe is the same as the evidence you cite for physical stuff existing today, namely your perceptions. If we are doubting the reliability of our perceptions, then we must also doubt that the universe is old.

The only argument I've heard against solipsism that makes sense to me is that, even if everything we perceive and/or remember is an illusion, we have to act as if it's true.

Several people in this thread have made that point.
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Old 10th October 2019, 08:57 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
The only argument I've heard against solipsism that makes sense to me is that, even if everything we perceive and/or remember is an illusion, we have to act as if it's true.

Several people in this thread have made that point.
That implies that solipsism has no practical import, not that it's false.

Mind you, that's a criticism of sorts. Some theories would say that solipsism is therefore meaningless. But if it's not meaningless, then this criticism shows that the theory "doesn't matter", not that it's false.
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Old 11th October 2019, 04:44 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by phiwum View Post
That implies that solipsism has no practical import, not that it's false.

Mind you, that's a criticism of sorts. Some theories would say that solipsism is therefore meaningless. But if it's not meaningless, then this criticism shows that the theory "doesn't matter", not that it's false.
Ultimately the discussion about solipsism, materialism, "we live in a simulation", or some such is irrelevant. Scientific knowledge is knowledge about the patterns in the data, not about the ultimate basis of the data. If I let go of an object then it falls down, that is scientific knowledge (law of gravity) which describes a pattern in the data ("let go of something -> something falls down") but it doesn't say anything about whether this something I'm letting of and that is falling down has material existence, or is a computer simulation, or a solipsistic figment of my imagination, or whatever. Nor is this question relevant to gaining or using said scientific knowledge.
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Old 11th October 2019, 07:12 AM   #57
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Originally Posted by JayUtah View Post
Agreed. It rankles me when people say "begs the question" when they mean 'raises the question."
Only because I haven't been able to make "Hate F(censored)s the Question" to catch on.
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Old 11th October 2019, 07:17 AM   #58
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But regardless sane people can agree that the "iS reALitY rAEL!?" is a bunch of navel gazing nonsense and chips, but we have to deal with it on an intellectual level as long as it one more place "Woo of the Gaps" gets shoved.
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Old 11th October 2019, 10:47 AM   #59
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Ultimately the discussion about solipsism, materialism, "we live in a simulation", or some such is irrelevant. Scientific knowledge is knowledge about the patterns in the data, not about the ultimate basis of the data. If I let go of an object then it falls down, that is scientific knowledge (law of gravity) which describes a pattern in the data ("let go of something -> something falls down") but it doesn't say anything about whether this something I'm letting of and that is falling down has material existence, or is a computer simulation, or a solipsistic figment of my imagination, or whatever. Nor is this question relevant to gaining or using said scientific knowledge.
Absolutely agreed. That's what I meant when I said solipsism seems to have no practical consequences.

This is why it's regarded as a philosophical dead-end. It's not that it is obviously false, but that taking the theory seriously is not worth the time. Far as I can tell, solipsism in contemporary philosophy is treated as a warning sign. If your theory leads to solipsism, you seem to be going down the wrong path.
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Old 11th October 2019, 10:53 AM   #60
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
But regardless sane people can agree that the "iS reALitY rAEL!?" is a bunch of navel gazing nonsense and chips, but we have to deal with it on an intellectual level as long as it one more place "Woo of the Gaps" gets shoved.
I don't know that such an ill-formed question deserves any serious engagement. On a literal reading, surely the answer is yes, since "reality" means more or less "that which is real". If the person posing the question means something else, I don't know what he means.

At most, such a question prompts only a response that the meaning of the question is not at all obvious and the one asking should be clearer in what he means.

Solipsism, on the other hand, can be stated relatively clearly and I know of no undeniable refutation. It is regarded as a bad theory not because it's obviously false but because it leads nowhere and serves as a mere distraction from more interesting questions. (Of course, solipsism may be a genuinely interesting object of study depending on what one is studying, I suppose.)
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Old 11th October 2019, 10:53 AM   #61
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Because the "Dead end" is the point. It's not an argument, it's an argument ending non-sequitur.

"You can't tell me my Woo is untrue because you can't somehow boostrap prove reality using itself" isn't exactly a hidden motive.
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Old 11th October 2019, 10:59 AM   #62
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No, reality is not real.

Now what? What are you going to do differently?
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Old 11th October 2019, 11:02 AM   #63
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
No, reality is not real.

Now what? What are you going to do differently?
Believe in Woo without feeling guilty or stupid seems to be the end goal.
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Old 11th October 2019, 12:39 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Ultimately the discussion about solipsism, materialism, "we live in a simulation", or some such is irrelevant. Scientific knowledge is knowledge about the patterns in the data, not about the ultimate basis of the data. If I let go of an object then it falls down, that is scientific knowledge (law of gravity) which describes a pattern in the data ("let go of something -> something falls down") but it doesn't say anything about whether this something I'm letting of and that is falling down has material existence, or is a computer simulation, or a solipsistic figment of my imagination, or whatever. Nor is this question relevant to gaining or using said scientific knowledge.
Solipsism, simulation. Can't be disproved, because they are un-falsifiable claims. They are, as such, uninteresting, because they don't change the attitude we need to have towards reality.

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Old 11th October 2019, 01:04 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by phiwum View Post
Absolutely agreed. That's what I meant when I said solipsism seems to have no practical consequences.

This is why it's regarded as a philosophical dead-end. It's not that it is obviously false, but that taking the theory seriously is not worth the time. Far as I can tell, solipsism in contemporary philosophy is treated as a warning sign. If your theory leads to solipsism, you seem to be going down the wrong path.
Then why isn't materialism/physicalism regarded as a dead-end not worth the time? After all, my entire point was that there were no consequences to choosing solipsism over materialism or vice versa.
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Old 11th October 2019, 01:08 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
Solipsism, simulation. Can't be disproved, because they are un-falsifiable claims. They are, as such, uninteresting, because they don't change the attitude we need to have towards reality.

Hans
Same question to you, why aren't you including materialism/physicalism there? My post pointed out that it makes no difference whether you pick either materialism, solipsism, or simulation yet you and phiwum seem to only use that as an argument against solipsism and simulation and not against materialism. Sounds like confirmation bias to me, assuming you both hold to materialism.
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Old 11th October 2019, 01:15 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Same question to you, why aren't you including materialism/physicalism there? My post pointed out that it makes no difference whether you pick either materialism, solipsism, or simulation yet you and phiwum seem to only use that as an argument against solipsism and simulation and not against materialism. Sounds like confirmation bias to me, assuming you both hold to materialism.
Materialism is falsifiable. Materialism claims that reality follows rules. This can be tested.

Hans
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Old 11th October 2019, 01:21 PM   #68
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Because "materialism" is just a made up B.S. term that tries to make "reality exists" an opinion we have to defend, employed only by Woo Slingers and Navel Gazers.
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Old 11th October 2019, 01:29 PM   #69
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Pretending that Dualism / Materalism are somehow equal is inane.

It's like LastThursdayism. Yes saying 'The universe just poofed into existence last Thursday but it poofed into existence in a state that was functionally identical to a universe that had existed for billions of years" answers the question equally well as "Well all signs point to the universe being billions of years old so it's billions of years old"... if you pretend intellectual honesty isn't a thing.

No version of "Well what if we're wrong and the universe really runs on dream logic with no cause and effect and it all just creates the illusion of an ordered universe by random chance" is worth considering, debating, or acknowledging.
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Old 11th October 2019, 01:32 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
Materialism is falsifiable. Materialism claims that reality follows rules. This can be tested.

Hans
Then you haven't understood my post about the difference between scientific knowledge (patterns in the data, or "reality follows rules") and an arbitrary ontological choice of the ultimate basis of the data (materialism, solipsism, simulation, ...). All of these ontological choices claim that reality follows rules, where they differ is in their claim of what this reality consists of (objectively existing physical/material entities for materialism, or my imagination for solipsism, or a computer simulation for simulation, ...).

It really just looks like confirmation bias to me. Either there are no consequences to solipsism and hence materialism is to be considered just as much an uninteresting dead-end as solipsism, or there is a basis for preferring materialism over solipsism and hence there are consequences to choosing one over another.
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Old 11th October 2019, 01:33 PM   #71
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You're just demanding we acknowledge a distinct without difference where the only distinction is a vague "taking science down a peg."
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Old 11th October 2019, 01:48 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Because the "Dead end" is the point. It's not an argument, it's an argument ending non-sequitur.

"You can't tell me my Woo is untrue because you can't somehow boostrap prove reality using itself" isn't exactly a hidden motive.
Discussions of solipsism are not limited to those who want to defend their pseudoscientific nonsense. But, you know, whatever you say, Joe. Great insights into philosophy as all, and gobs of respect from me for your precise and well-crafted criticisms.
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Old 11th October 2019, 01:49 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
You're just demanding we acknowledge a distinct without difference where the only distinction is a vague "taking science down a peg."
Not at all. Here, have an analogy:

You and some other people express a belief in (the Christian) God. Some others in Allah, and some others in Yahweh.

Me: "There is no scientific reason for preferring a belief in any of these deities over any other, belief or non-belief in any of them is irrelevant."

Phiwum & Hans: "Yes, that's why belief in Allah or Yahweh is considered an uninteresting dead-end."

Me: "That applies just as well to belief in God, that you only use that argument against belief in Allah and Yahweh looks simply like confirmation bias."

You: "You're just demanding that we take science down a peg."

Just because you live in a Christian society where believe in God is considered the default doesn't mean that this default has any more basis in science than belief in any other deity. Now change God to materialism, Allah to solipsism and Yahweh to simulation.
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Old 11th October 2019, 01:51 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Then why isn't materialism/physicalism regarded as a dead-end not worth the time? After all, my entire point was that there were no consequences to choosing solipsism over materialism or vice versa.
It all depends on what you mean by "materialism". Since your reference to materialism wasn't all that clear to me, I didn't mention it.

I still might have no opinion if you clarify what you meant by materialism, since it may be something that requires some thought.
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Old 11th October 2019, 01:57 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
Materialism is falsifiable. Materialism claims that reality follows rules. This can be tested.

Hans
The claim that there are rules governing the behavior of the stuff we see/hear/etc., seems unfalsifiable to me.

Suppose the coffee cup in front of me suddenly sprouts daffodils as the voices of angelic beings come from the vent above the stove top. That sort of event seems incompatible with the various laws of physics, etc., of the day. Of course, it could be that (1) the situation in which this occurred was very, very different than I thought and in fact such an event was consistent with such laws or (2) some of the currently accepted laws are not quite right and require amendment.

In short, I could maintain my confidence in the rule of some laws, either by weakening my confidence in the conditions where this odd event occurred or my confidence in the currently accepted laws.

I cannot imagine a situation in which I would be compelled to admit that an event was incompatible with any possible set of laws.
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Old 11th October 2019, 01:58 PM   #76
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Originally Posted by phiwum View Post
It all depends on what you mean by "materialism". Since your reference to materialism wasn't all that clear to me, I didn't mention it.

I still might have no opinion if you clarify what you meant by materialism, since it may be something that requires some thought.
Materialism = "reality consists of objective material/physical entities."
Solipsism = "reality consists of my imagination."
Simulation = "reality consists of a computer simulation."
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Old 11th October 2019, 02:04 PM   #77
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Materialism = "reality consists of objective material/physical entities."
Solipsism = "reality consists of my imagination."
Simulation = "reality consists of a computer simulation."
If I understand what you mean by each of those, all three would be meaningless on a logical positivist analysis. None of them entail any differences in observations or mandate any particular practical consequences.

I don't see a particular reason to privilege materialsim of the sort you describe above.

But please note that this isn't a philosophical topic I've devoted any time to. Perhaps I'm missing something. From where I sit, the word "physical" doesn't have any altogether clear meaning unless one is a dualist (so that some things are not physical). Perhaps I'm being too quick in my analysis.
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Old 11th October 2019, 02:11 PM   #78
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Originally Posted by phiwum View Post
If I understand what you mean by each of those, all three would be meaningless on a logical positivist analysis. None of them entail any differences in observations or mandate any particular practical consequences.

I don't see a particular reason to privilege materialsim of the sort you describe above.
Yes I agree, that was my original point that all three are meaningless. But that still doesn't answer the question as to why solipsism is considered in philosophy to be a dead-end or warning sign or not worth the time, but materialism isn't.

Quote:
But please note that this isn't a philosophical topic I've devoted any time to. Perhaps I'm missing something. From where I sit, the word "physical" doesn't have any altogether clear meaning unless one is a dualist (so that some things are not physical). Perhaps I'm being too quick in my analysis.
I believe that the term physicalism has superseded the term materialism because, for example, photons aren't matter so a strict interpretation of materialism (only matter exists) would entail that photons don't exist. It's basically the same idea but extended a bit to "only physical entities exist" rather than "only matter exists."
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Old 11th October 2019, 02:34 PM   #79
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Yes I agree, that was my original point that all three are meaningless. But that still doesn't answer the question as to why solipsism is considered in philosophy to be a dead-end or warning sign or not worth the time, but materialism isn't.



I believe that the term physicalism has superseded the term materialism because, for example, photons aren't matter so a strict interpretation of materialism (only matter exists) would entail that photons don't exist. It's basically the same idea but extended a bit to "only physical entities exist" rather than "only matter exists."
I don't know the current theory and so will hesitate to comment on it. It's also not high on my list of topics to learn about, sorry.
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Old 11th October 2019, 03:21 PM   #80
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Then you haven't understood my post about the difference between scientific knowledge (patterns in the data, or "reality follows rules") and an arbitrary ontological choice of the ultimate basis of the data (materialism, solipsism, simulation, ...). All of these ontological choices claim that reality follows rules, where they differ is in their claim of what this reality consists of (objectively existing physical/material entities for materialism, or my imagination for solipsism, or a computer simulation for simulation, ...).

It really just looks like confirmation bias to me. Either there are no consequences to solipsism and hence materialism is to be considered just as much an uninteresting dead-end as solipsism, or there is a basis for preferring materialism over solipsism and hence there are consequences to choosing one over another.

Occam's Razor is involved. Materialism posits, well, material, and rules that the material follows. Simulation(ism?) requires material as well (that is, the stuff represented within the simulation as material, with which we interact) and rules (usually seen as the "programming" of the simulator), and in addition it also requires a simulator.

Solipsism at first glance appears to avoid the razor, because it only requires the solipsist and the constructs within the solipsists mind that the solipsist experiences and interacts with as material. But there's another hypothesized yet un-experienced entity snuck in: the capability to create all those constructs. Including, for example, the ability to compose every piece of music the solipsist ever hears, and to spontaneously and unconsciously create the entire body of Russian literature if and when the solipsist learns to read Russian. That necessary unconscious creator-mind-self is as significant and unexplained an entity as the simulationist's simulator.
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