• Strange Notions Strange Notions Strange Notions

How Do You Know You’re Not in the Matrix?

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Filed under Man

Matrix

At the heart of the philosophy of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas is the idea that we come into contact with reality through the senses. But what if our senses are not a reliable source? Perhaps our senses are deceiving us, and everything we perceive isn’t real but is merely an illusion like in the movie The Matrix.

Descartes

This skepticism of sense knowledge was part of René Descartes’s methodic doubt, which many radical skeptics have adopted. Descartes argued:

Whatever I have up till now accepted as most true I have acquired either from the senses or through the senses. But from time to time I have found that the senses deceive me, and it is prudent never to trust completely those who have deceived us even once (Meditations, I, pp. 12f.).

Descartes’ point is, if our senses have deceived us before, how do we know our senses aren’t deceiving us now? One example Descartes gives as evidence our senses deceive us is the fact that objects at a distance look smaller than what they actually are.

But this is not deception. The sense of sight is reporting accurately what it perceives, namely the person appears small at a distance and then appears big when close up. As D.Q. McInerny says, “This is the sense of sight functioning just as it should, in order to give me a proper knowledge of distance” (Epistemology, 192). Error would come in only if one made the judgment, “That man is small and then becomes big.” Truth and falsity do not reside in sensory perception but in the act of judging that perception.

St. Thomas Aquinas makes the point this way:

Truth and falsity exist principally in the soul’s judgment. . . . Hence, a thing is not said to be false because it always of itself causes a false apprehension, but rather because its natural appearance is likely to cause a false apprehension (Questiones Disputatae de Veritate 1:10; emphasis added).

Another problem with Descartes’s reason for doubting sensory perception is that he relies on only one sensory power. It’s often the case that in order to test whether one sense is deceiving us, we must use another sense.

To use an example that many radical skeptics do to justify their doubt of sense knowledge, I may perceive the stick partially immersed in water as crooked. How do I determine if what I perceive is actually the case? I pick up the stick. When I do so I judge the stick is not actually crooked. But notice that in order to make a correct judgment about the stick, I employ another sensory power—namely, touch—that I must trust in order to make the proper the judgment.

With regard to Descartes’s example, in order to make a proper judgment about the size of the man walking up the street, Descartes would have to make contact with him through the sense of touch and measure him in order to determine that he is not small, which requires trust in sense knowledge.

Furthermore, Descartes’s recognition of the man’s small stature as unusual presupposes his trust in his previous sensory experience of the man’s tall stature. As Ralph McInerny notes, “[Descartes] must trust his senses in order to doubt them” (A First Glance at St. Thomas Aquinas, 37).

So, if it’s reasonable to trust sense knowledge, and the senses put us into contact with the world outside the mind, then we can have certitude that what we perceive is objectively real.

Dreams

The appeal to dreams is another way radical skeptics attempt to undermine trust in the senses. Taking their cue from Descartes again, they argue, “How do I know I’m not dreaming right now?” We can respond in two ways.

First, we experience ourselves being awake. As such, the skeptic must shoulder the burden of proof and not merely make an assertion (as Descartes did) but give reason to believe we’re not awake.

Second, in order to determine if our experience is a dream state, one must be able to identify a dream state. But as the philosopher Kenneth Gallagher explains, one can identify a dream state only by comparison with our waking consciousness:

It would be literally nonsensical to ask: how do I know that waking is not what I ordinarily mean by dreaming, because if it were, I wouldn't know what I ordinarily mean by dreaming (The Philosophy of Knowledge, 41].

Conjecture about whether waking is dreaming is literally of no practical use. If our waking is dreaming, then there is no point in talking of dreaming.

Malignant power

Some skeptics may argue that our defense of sense knowledge assumes our sensory and cognitive faculties are real. Following in the steps again of Descartes, they argue, “What if our perception is merely the product of a malignant being manipulating our sensory and cognitive powers, thus making our experiences and knowledge mere illusions?”

Look, just because it is logically possible that we are being deceived by a malignant power does not mean it is plausible. Logical possibility means only that there is no logical contradiction. Plausibility is present whenever there are good reasons for thinking something to be the case. Are there any good reasons to think we are being deceived by a malignant power? The obvious answer is no.

Second, the only possible way to settle the question is to use the very faculties that are being called into question. It is impossible to reflect upon our sensory and cognitive faculties apart from their activities. As the late philosopher Peter Coffey writes:

[C]ognitive faculties cannot be tested or examined in themselves and abstracting from their activities: whatever we know or can know about the nature of the mind and its faculties we can know only through their activities: there is no other channel of information open to us (Epistemology vol. I., 93).

If doubting our cognitive faculties presupposes their use, then there is no way to question their validity.

Finally, the objection is subversive of the argument itself. If the skeptic is correct, then it’s possible the soundness of the skeptic’s argument is yet another illusion generated by the malignant power.

Conclusion

The attempt by radical skeptics to undermine the perennial philosophy of knowledge as found in Aristotle and Aquinas can be a major stumbling block for the pursuit of truth. But showing how one cannot doubt the senses without trusting them, and eliminating the possibility of our waking state being a dream state along with the possibility of manipulation by a malignant power, can remove the stumbling block and open the path to knowledge of the real.
 
 
(Image credit: The Creators Project)

Karlo Broussard

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After a three-year apprenticeship with Fr. Robert Spitzer S.J. PhD., nationally known author, speaker, philosopher, and theologian, Karlo works as a full time apologist and speaker for Catholic Answers giving lectures throughout the country on topics in Catholic apologetics, theology and philosophy. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in theology from Catholic Distance University and the Augustine Institute, and is currently working on his masters in philosophy with Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He is one of the most dynamic and enthusiastic Catholic speakers on the circuit today. He resides in Murrieta, CA with his wife and four children. You can view Karlo's online videos at KarloBroussard.com. You can also book Karlo for a speaking event by contacting Catholic Answers at 619-387-7200.

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  • Lazarus

    I accept that I am in the matrix. In the matrix I am a Catholic that believes as I do. Problem solved ;)

    • Mike

      lol

    • Craig Roberts

      "I am lying right now." said the liar.

      • Peebo1

        "And I believe you right now" Replied the Honest man.

        • Craig Roberts

          LIAR! You think I'm telling the truth!

    • Craig Roberts

      Which pill did you take?

      • Lazarus

        It's called "Mass". ;)

  • This disproof of hard solipsism does not work. In order to determine if one sense is accurate you cannot rely on another sense that you also do not know is accurate.

    • Can the hard solipsist talk about accuracy of the senses, on solipsist grounds? It seems to me that his metaphysic prevents him from even having the conversation.

      • No a hard solipsist can talk about whatever he wants, he cannot make any judgments on the accuracy of his senses, he cannot propose confidence on the senses. All he can do is what we all do, is ignore the problem.

        • What is the solipsist talking about when when he uses the phrase "accuracy of the senses"? Surely he is not talking about the same thing that the non-solipsist is talking about when the non-solipsist uses the same phrase.

          • A solipsist would be speaking of his experience of hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, smelling. So would the non solipsist. And by accuracy would mean whether the images they send him track onto objective reality. So would the non-solipsist.

          • The solipsist believes in objective reality? Perhaps I was not clear enough; when I asked "What is the solipsist talking about", I meant within his own conceptual resources.

          • To make this easier I will play the role of the solipsist. No I do not beleive in external reality. I do not know if I have conceptual resources. It seems like I do, but I can't take a position.

          • If you don't believe in external reality, what on earth could you mean by "accuracy of the senses"?

          • I have this experience that seems to be information coming from an outside world, it seems to be in distinct ways I call seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, smelling. I call these senses.

            But I don't have any way to verify if this information is accurate. I have nothing to compare it to. This information is inconsistent and sometimes contradictory.

            That is what I mean by senses and accuracy. This input suggests to me that I am a corporeal being in a material world, but how can I tell that is the case or that I am not something completely different in cosmos? Or no cosmos. The only way I seem to have to get more information is these senses. So I can't use the senses to determine if my senses are accurate, so I don't know if these senses are accurate.

          • How do I reconcile these two things:

            BGA: I do not beleive in external reality.

            BGA: I have this experience that seems to be information coming from an outside world [...]

            ? If you don't believe in an external reality, how on earth would you know what it would be like for there to be an external reality, such that you can accurately imagine what it would be like to have information come from an outside world? Why trust this imagination of yours one iota, when it comes to think of the nature of external reality and your relationship to it?

            I maintain that you have zero justification for having any confidence that you understand what the phrase "accuracy of the senses" would mean. You need to presuppose an external world and the possibility of a robust connection to it, to even think the concept in any justifiable way. Otherwise you're imagining invisible pink unicorns.

          • "If you don't believe in an external reality, how on earth would you know what it would be like for there to be an external reality?"

            I do not know what it would be like for there to be an external reality.

            "such that you can accurately imagine what it would be like"

            I do not say that I can accurately imagine anything.

            "Why trust this imagination of yours one iota..."

            I don't, not about anything.

            "I maintain that you have zero justification for having any confidence that you understand what the phrase "accuracy of the senses" would mean"

            I fully agree, I have zero justification. I cannot reach any position with any level of confidence, except that I, in some way, exist.

            "You need to presuppose an external world and the possibility of a robust connection to it, to even think the concept in any justifiable way"

            I agree, that is why I do not claim any connection to it, or even that it exists.

            "Otherwise you're imagining invisible pink unicorns."

            Exactly, I have no way of knowing, or of gaining any confidence in whether my imagining of pink unicorns is real, or whether this conversation is real, whether my body is real, and so on.

            (sorry for the earlier version a bad attempt at block quoting)

          • I do not know what it would be like for there to be an external reality.

            Then you were uttering meaningless words as a solipsist, and I'm calling you on it. Without having initially trusted your senses, you just wouldn't know accuracy from inaccuracy.

            I do not say that I can accurately imagine anything.

            You were implying that you could properly handle certain concepts, which implies an accurate imagination when it comes to those concepts.

            I cannot reach any position with any level of confidence, except that I, in some way, exist.

            Actually, all you really know is "thoughts exist". No need for an "I".

          • Logike

            Luke, it seems you are assuming an "semantic externalist" view of linguistic meaning, that the meanings of words just are what they refer to. But this doesn't necessarily have to be the case. Someone could adopt a semantic "internalist" view instead.

            However, on an externalist view of meaning, the skeptic problem still holds. Rather than referring to skies, mountains, and trees, if we were in the matrix we would be talking about *skies*, *mountains,* and *trees* instead.

            If you're interested, a philosopher named Brueckner attempted to get out of the brain in a vat hypothesis by using semantic externalism. I don't, however, think he is successful. I know Brueckner personally, by the way, and I wrote a paper in graduate school arguing just this. You can check out one of his papers here.
            http://www.jstor.org/stable/2254123?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

          • I'm not suggesting a way out of the brain in the vat scenario; I think solipsism is impenetrable to both logic and evidence. What I am saying is that the solipsist doesn't have the right grounding to talk about what a non-solipsist reality would be like. To deny this is to deny that sense-experience is important for talking about reality with any confidence whatsoever.

            I think part of the way that agent freedom is allowed in our reality is that some choices—very important choices—simply cannot be compelled. You can choose whether to be a solipsist, whether to believe that any evil 'stays' gratuitous, what the ultimate foundation of justice ought to be, etc. The way you interact with the world is shaped by your beliefs and your observations confirm those beliefs, like self-fulfilling prophecy. To know whether the world could be a different way, sometimes you have to make a leap of faith. The results can corroborate or falsify the leap.

            Thanks for the paper reference; it's cited over at IEP's The Brain in a Vat Argument.

          • Logike

            Ah, I think I understand what you're saying, but I could be wrong....

            Bertrand Russell once said solipsism was psychologically impossible to believe, even for those professing to be solipsists. He reiterates a story of a lady who, after hearing one of his lectures, wrote a letter to him professing to be a solipsist, yet surprised that there weren't more of them. Russell joked that he was surprised that she was surprised.

            Yet I think this is a psychological issue or perhaps one of integrity. Like someone saying, "It is raining outside, but I don't believe it." This isn't a logical contradiction. But it is a kind of performative contradiction. As Russell said, "The fact that I cannot believe something does not prove that it is
            false, but it does prove that I am insincere and frivolous if I pretend
            to believe it."

          • I'm not sure that's the only kind of solipsism. If I view all other minds as either just like my own, or broken to the extent that they're not just like my own, I suspect that there will be surprising structural similarities between how I will act here, and how I would act as a proper solipsist.

            I don't think it matters if a person doesn't act 100% consistently as a solipsist, either. People frequently don't act 100% consistently according to any philosophy.

          • Logike

            Well, I think what Russell was talking about was that solipsism entails that i don't know other minds exist either, so that if I were committed to this view, I couldn't rightly go about the world having any basis for respecting what I *thought* were other minds. The joke is that you don't want your doctor to be a committed solipsist. He may not take your health very seriously, because he thinks, for all he knows, it's just as likely that you don't exist at all. :)

          • Ahh, but if the other minds out there are just projections of my mind onto people my subconscious has created, then there really is only just one mind.

          • Logike

            That's right. For all I know, I'm talking with computer generated fictional entity right now (according to Brain-In-Vat solipsism).

          • Logike

            Luke, also, I think you might like G. E. Moore's famous "common sense" answer to skepticism. I replied with the following post to Brian somewhere else here, so I apologize for repeating myself. But I think it deserves the repeat.

            Moore accepted for the sake of argument the skeptic's first premise (1) below, but performed a kind of reversal so that "the skeptic's modus ponens becomes my modus tollens."

            (1) If I don't know that I am not in the Matrix, then I don't know that I have two hands.
            (2) I know that I have two hands.
            (3) Therefore, I know that I am not in the Matrix.

            Moore agrees with the skeptic's 1st premise! But he argues in effect that it seems to him more intuitively obvious that he knows that he has two hands than that he does not know that he is not in the Matrix. His point is that the skeptic no more has a case for skepticism than he, Moore, has for knowledge. This argument helped me move further away from the trap of solipsism years ago.

            It is deceptively simple, for sure. But I think he has a point. (That's not to say I am convinced by his argument as the more "obvious." Personally, I'm undecided.)

          • Hmmm, that logic seems... odd. Perhaps because it presumes that Moore is the sane one and the skeptic the insane one. I think I would prefer to say that skepticism is parasitic on belief; it is always trying to tear down what others build up. This is not always bad, but the acid used is sometimes (frequently?) too strong, too liberally applied, and insufficiently applied to the skeptic's own position.

            I'm inclined to view skepticism as a refusal to trust others except in ways which are much too narrow to support civilization. This view was amplified by Wayne C. Booth's Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent. He has a great line: "A good general rule is: scratch a skeptic and find a dogmatist." (56) Note that a willingness to trust others is a way out of delusion, except for the all-humans-are-deluded option, which is impossible to avoid and thus ought not be worried about.

            It gets interesting when you think of pistis and pisteuō in the NT through the lens of trust instead of belief. How often does trust have to precede warrant for that trust? What happens if we instead insist on sitting back until we have enough evidence/reason to trust? Can society be run in that fashion? Or does this withdrawal actually cause the disintegration of public life, and as a result, society?

          • Logike

            Yes, well put. I do think we (and Moore) are talking about the same thing. When I said "deceptively simple" I mean that Moore was more concerned with undercutting the argument for skepticism than trying to prove that he was not in the matrix, or dreaming, or whatever. He was saying there was no ground for skepticism. "I have hands" is just as, if not more, certain to him as "I don't know that I am not in the Matrix."

          • The thing that gets me about discussions like this is when the prophets in the OT said that reality was very unlike how the Israelites claimed reality was. (For example, saying "peace, peace" when there was no peace, or thinking that the Temple of the Lord was a place where you can go to absolve yourself of stealing and murdering, after which you'd go and do it again.) The Israelites were living in deep delusion in ways that deeply mattered. They wouldn't trust that the prophets God sent could possibly be telling the truth (except for a few cases). So, I want to ensure that whatever way of thinking is adopted, it can support the kind of mass delusion the OT records. (Or one can look at what happened in the Weimar Republic and the subsequent decade.)

          • Lazarus

            Well put indeed. Have a look also at Mitch Stokes' "How to be an atheist" for a light but well argued read on why skeptics should be more skeptical.

          • Thanks; Peter van Inwagen gave a glowing review of it, calling it "the best popular discussion of the (alleged) conflict between science and religion that I have ever read".

          • Lazarus

            I missed that review. High praise indeed from PvI.

          • Chad Wooters

            There is a perfectly logical objection to solipsism: the Principle of Non-Contradiction or PNC. The PNC is true even if no mind exists to think it. Therefore at least one true thing exists apart from any particular mind. Thus solipsism is false.

          • How much does solipsism really need to be modified to allow for abstract things like logic? You also seem to be committed to a kind of realism in the philosophy of mathematics, which is by no means a settled topic.

          • "Then you were uttering meaningless words as a solipsist, and I'm calling you on it. Without having initially trusted your senses, you just wouldn't know accuracy from inaccuracy."

            No, I understand accuracy in the abstract, I know that if A is A and B is B and neither A is B, nor B is A, and neither are anything in between, it is inaccurate to say A is B or B is A. It is accurate to say A is A, and B is B. The problem is, when I am actually shown something presented as A, or which I intuit is A, I have no way to know if it really is A, or B or there is nothing there, or there is something else entirely.

            "You were implying that you could properly handle certain concepts, which
            implies an accurate imagination when it comes to those concepts."

            I can handle concepts, I suppose, the word "handle" is rather vague. I
            can certainly imagine and think, I can hold "images" in my mind, I can
            think about these images. I can also even say it seems intuitive that
            these images are reflections of something exterior to "me", But I just
            have no way to tell if they are, or if they are just imagination.

            "Actually, all you really know is "thoughts exist". No need for an "I"."

            OK.

          • No, I understand accuracy in the abstract, I know that if A is A and B is B and neither A is B, nor B is A, and neither are anything in between, it is inaccurate to say A is B or B is A. It is accurate to say A is A, and B is B. The problem is, when I am actually shown something presented as A, or which I intuit is A, I have no way to know if it really is A, or B or there is nothing there, or there is something else entirely.

            You don't actually know what it would be for it really to be A, unless that had actually happened. You simply would not have the experience required to understand what the experience is like. Or are you claiming to be able to know what experiences would be like without ever experiencing them?

            I can handle concepts, I suppose, the word "handle" is rather vague. I can certainly imagine and think, I can hold "images" in my mind, I can think about these images.

            But how do you have any confidence that you are doing said imagining and thinking correctly?

          • "You don't actually know what it would be for it really to be A, unless that had actually happened."

            I don't think this follows, but sure, let's say you are correct. I concede the point, I was "uttering meaningless words as a solipsist". This doesn't convince me that anything other than my thoughts are real.

            "But how do you have any confidence that you are doing said imagining and thinking correctly?"

            I don't have any such confidence.

          • The conclusion from what you say is clear: you have zero confidence that you know what you're talking about when you discuss "accuracy of the senses".

          • If you say so. But now you can probably understand why I cannot say the senses are accurate!

          • I never denied that you couldn't say it. In fact, I repeatedly argued that not only could you not say it, you could not think its possibility. After all, you can always dissolve distinctions. You're just not allowed to later pretend that you haven't done so.

          • Okay, so are you just telling me what I think and believe? Do you have any other questions? I thought I knew what these concepts meant and that I was using them appropriately, but you disagree. If I concede you are right you accuse me of pretending?

            I'm really at a loss of what else to say. At this point I don't know what or if there is a real world or apparently what the concepts I use mean.

            Do you have any other questions? I thought you were going to demonstrate something.

            But seriously Luke, you have to give me some leeway here to have some understanding of knowledge and concepts otherwise you will be discussing with a newborn.

            Why don't we think of it this way. I have lived my whole life trusting my senses as we all do, and developed the concepts we will be using in this discussion, until I read Descartes and now I hold to solipsism.

          • Okay, so are you just telling me what I think and believe?

            No, I'm saying that if you believe X, there are consequences as to what you can and cannot believe such that your beliefs are consistent.

            I thought I knew what these concepts meant and that I was using them appropriately, but you disagree.

            Am I talking to Brian the solipsist, or the real Brian? I've been claiming that Brian the solipsist doesn't know what these concepts mean, on pain of contradiction.

            If I concede you are right you accuse me of pretending?

            I'm accusing Brian the solipsist of pretending to know what he does not know. That's not an especially terrible criticism; it's very easy to invalidly smuggle beliefs when you're trying to walk a mile in someone else's shoes.

            Do you have any other questions? I thought you were going to demonstrate something.

            Yes; discussion of "accuracy of the senses" presumes their knowable accuracy in some domains, accuracy which can be used to correct inaccuracy in other domains. To argue that "accuracy of the senses cannot be justified" is to predicate half the clause on solipsism and half the clause on non-solipsism:

            accuracy of the senses cannot be justified
            ---------------------- -------------------
               only knowable if    asserted from a
               experienced         solipsist position
               (not-solipsism)

            But seriously Luke, you have to give me some leeway here to have some understanding of knowledge and concepts otherwise you will be discussing with a newborn.

            But that's the point: in order to have the concepts, you must have the proper foundation, and solipsism precludes the proper foundation. The assertion that you can reliably think counterfactually about very different possible worlds is terrifically tendentious.

            Why don't we think of it this way. I have lived my whole life trusting my senses as we all do, and developed the concepts we will be using in this discussion, until I read Descartes and now I hold to solipsism.

            Fine: unlike Descartes, who utterly failed to actually discard the tradition he said he was (see Alasdair MacIntyre's 1977 Epistemological Crises, Dramatic Narrative and the Philosophy Of Science), I want you to properly destroy any and all knowledge which is predicated upon not-solipsism. Don't screw around with your skepticism; apply the acid consistently and thoroughly. You will find that you cannot actually construct the concept of "accuracy of the senses". You will have thought you could, but you would be concluding that actually, you were wrong.

          • Sure all empirical knowledge that is non-solopsist about empirical issues is, fundamentally premised on the assumption that the senses are in some way reliable. I can understand these concepts and what they mean because I make that assumption.

            Done. There is no warrant for the assumption, that is why it is an assumption not a conclusion. If you want to justify the assumption, it is up to you to show how it can be justified.

          • If there is no warrant for that assumption, then there is no warrant for anything built on that assumption. Based on this conception of 'warrant', what actually has any warrant whatsoever?

          • "If there is no warrant for that assumption, then there is no warrant for anything built on that assumption."

            Well no, there can be empirical conclusions that are warranted under the assumption.

            But can you just tell me if it is an assumption you make or if you think you can justify or demonstrate that the senses are in some way accurate or that you are not living in a simulation or dreaming? Because isn't this really the question?

          • I'm not quite sure. On the basis you're arguing, it's not actually clear that Descartes had warrant to say that "thoughts exist". Why? Well, because if all of reality is the color red, that's probably not something we would actually know. It is only because some of reality isn't red, that we know what redness is. Well, if we aren't warranted in asserting an external reality, then we aren't warranted in establishing that there is anything but thought. And once you're there, how can you say "thoughts exist"? All you could actually say is "existence exists", which is probably a meaningless tautology. (Perhaps, on reflection, you couldn't say that.)

            There seems to be something deeply wrong with the conception of 'warrant' you're using. For the foundation of everything to be based on utterly unjustified choices seems terribly wrong. It seems like a weird form of radical skepticism. But the most damning thing, it seems to me, is that it doesn't seem like this kind of thinking could have led to modern science. That is, warrant of type A led to a certain stage of thinking such that you could then start talking about warrant of type B. But there's a fallacy here, because if warrant of type A is required to think about warrant of type B, then type B is not all that exists.

            On the other hand, perhaps our set of core beliefs (not just 'external reality exists and I can know it', but what that 'external reality' is like—e.g. value-laden or value-free) is radically free; maybe they must be free for us to be free. Maybe I must be allowed to think of causation as always-manipulative, always-dominating, or to allow for multiple causal nexūs which can cooperatively cause things as well as dominate each other. How exactly reality could support a robust form of freedom is still pretty much a mystery to me. I get how our best science can allow for it†, but that's different from having a way of imagining reality which allows it.

            Suffice it to say that I don't think the matter is nearly as simple as you claim.

          • It is radical skepticism, or global skepticism. Of course no science would be possible for a solopsist, no observation would be accepted as reasonable.

            It's not about warrant or causation or any of this. Use whatever language you want. But I still have heard no argument for why we should trust out senses or distinguish reality from a dream or simulation.

          • You don't seem to understand. On radical skepticism, you can't even say "thoughts exist". Given that, how on earth would I be able to convince you of anything?

          • You can actually, and this is what Descartes proves. He doubts everything, and asks if he can doubt that he Is doubting, and realizes he cannot. Because positing that there is no one doubting, positing there are no thoughts doubting, is a thought. Thoughts are self-attesting. But yes you are correct, if someone would require the problem of solipsism to be overcome before being being convinced of anything they never could be convinced of anything empirical.

          • [Descartes] doubts everything...

            No, he doesn't. For example, he doesn't doubt the tradition embedded in language which allows him to write what he is doing. Shall I excerpt from Alasdair MacIntyre's Epistemological Crises, Dramatic Narrative and the Philosophy Of Science?

          • Ok, let us doubt "the tradition embedded in language which allows him to write what he is doing", on what basis is there that such a tradition exists, or that it "allows him to write what he is writing", or that there is any writing?

          • I think at this point, the amount of magic, or "just-so story" required to let Descartes say what he said on solipsist grounds is far greater than describing the situation as MacIntyre does.

            But I still think you have a problem, whereby if you start by thinking there's no reason to think that there's an external world, then you have no way to distinguish thought from non-thought, and thus you haven't a clue what thoughts are. And so you cannot say "thoughts exist", which is more than "I think therefore I am". After all, if there is nothing other than "I", so you have the same problem there, too. It's not clear that the solipsist can speak, without stealing from non-solipsists.

          • "if you start by thinking there's no reason to think that there's an external world"

            This is not the starting point. The starting point is trusting the senses and believing in the existence of the external world. The meditation begins by asking if there is a good reason for these beliefs, and going down the rabbit hole.

            "It's not clear that the solipsist can speak, without stealing from non-solipsists."

            I fully agree, but that is not an answer to the problem. Again, neither you nor MacIntyre have presented a solution.

            What you appear to be arguing is that this global skepticism is not something that Descartes or my actions suggest we support, since to even ask the questions we must rely on some tradition or narrative that presumes some empirical beliefs are justified.

            But this does not work, since we can also doubt any such narrative or tradition in the same way as everything else.

            One can ask the question, as Descartes does, is it possible that in fact I do not have a narrative and tradition to rely on, I am just under an illusion that I am, whereas actual reality is entirely different? There is no contradiction in that being an illusion or a deception. The same can be said for any content of any thought.

            However, quite a different result occurs when one asks, is it possible that my experience of existence itself (call it thought or consciousness, what you will) is a deception and not really occurring, that there is in fact no "me" to be deceived at all either. But this question, if answered in the affirmative DOES lead to a contradiction. If the external reality is real, and I am not being deceived, then "I" exist. If the external reality is not real and it is a deception, some kind of "I" some kind of entity must exist to be deceived into experiencing something that seems real. In either case there must be some "me".

            So in this way it really is coherent to accept one's own existence, but to doubt the reality of all the content of that existence.

          • What you appear to be arguing is that this global skepticism is not something that Descartes or my actions suggest we support, since to even ask the questions we must rely on some tradition or narrative that presumes some empirical beliefs are justified.

            But this does not work, since we can also doubt any such narrative or tradition in the same way as everything else.

            With what conceptual resources would you do said doubting, and how did you arrive at them in a way which isn't equally targetable by said doubt? One of Wittgenstein's accomplishments was to show how many resources were needed just for language to work. He also argued against the notion of a private language; whether or not that applies to endeavors to better do Cartesian doubt, I'm not sure.

            I would be curious if you can name a single, recent peer-reviewed work in philosophy which supports your claims. From what I understand, you're advancing an impossible scenario.

            However, quite a different result occurs when one asks, is it possible that my experience of existence itself (call it thought or consciousness, what you will) is a deception and not really occurring, that there is in fact no "me" to be deceived at all either. But this question, if answered in the affirmative DOES lead to a contradiction.

            See the Philosophy.SE question Could 'cogito ergo sum' possibly be false? and the accepted answer.

          • What conceptual resources? I don't know. Could be those of a human material brain, a supercomputer, or some other unfathomable resource. Solipsism does not propose there are no cognitive faculties or even that the senses are not reliable and that there is no external reality, it says we have no way of distinguishing these things.

            No I can't name any philosophy papers nor have I looked up any. Please explain what is impossible about this scenario.

            Whether or not cogito ergo sum is true or false or possibly false is not really relevant. If it is true, there is at least one fact any individual mind can be certain of, it is false there is nothing we can be certain of.

            Again, what method is the of distinguishing a real world from a simulation or a dream? If you aren't interested in giving me your view on this or it is too lengthy that is fine, just let me know.

          • infowolf1

            Augustine said re missionaries of "Boutta" who said we are deluded in thinking we exist, that something has to exist to be having a delusion, so if I am having the delusion I exist it proves I exist.

          • Logike

            Brian, Luke quotes you as saying, "I don't believe in external reality." Assuming you said this, I would take you to mean that you don't know whether a reality exists external to your subjective impressions, not that (as Luke seems to be taking you as saying), there is no external reality at all. Is this right?

            Solipsism (epistemological thesis) is not metaphysical idealism (a metaphysical thesis)!

          • infowolf1

            your position will be flat on the ground when you trip over something you decide is not real because you don't trust your senses, or too busy philosophizing while walking and don't notice something.

        • infowolf1

          this conversation reminds me of a cartoon where an alchemist is being told "if the rent isn't paid by tomorrow you can go make gold somewhere else." all this philosophizing won't keep you dry when you stand out there in the rain. you might ignore the rain but it might be the last straw that gets you catch a cold you can't ignore.

    • Chad Wooters

      I agree and cringed a little when Mr. Brousard raised that as an objection. The reliability of the senses is not confirmed just because one sense tells you the same thing as another. Both impressions could be unreliable in the same way. The reliability of the senses is confirmed not by comparing impressions; but rather by correctly conceptualizing the fullness of what you are seeing. For example, the bent appearance of the stick is not just about the stick. It is about the appearance of the stick when it is partially submerged in water. As such it tells you something about the water, its index of refraction for instance.

      • No, you are making basically the same argument that Karlo is making. You assume the senses are generally accurate in order to have the conceptual framework to fully conceptualize what you are seeing.

    • infowolf1

      people are inaccurate, so several people will say different somewhat about the same thing. if you combine the points in common you got the truth likely. same with senses.

  • "Truth and falsity exist principally in the soul’s judgment. . . . Hence,
    a thing is not said to be false because it always of itself causes a
    false apprehension, but rather because its natural appearance is likely to cause a false apprehension"

    This does not solve the problem either, the problem is we have no way of determining what the natural appearance is, or whether we are dealing with a false appearance.

    I think the example Descartes gave was that a tower in the distance appears round, if we can trust our senses, this conclusion is reasonable to believe is correct. But when you get close you realize it is a square tower. Again if we can trust the senses this is correct. But we now have an apparent contradiction, unless the tower morphed from round to square. Is that a reasonable conclusion? We might wait until further developments in optics occur and learn that in fact the way light works and our eyes are calibrated a square tower will look round. Problem solved? No, because now we have confirmed that our senses are actually wrong. Or have we? How did we discover these facts about optics and our eyes. More sensory input which we still have not determined if we can trust.

    There is no way out of this problem.

    • You seem to have ignored Broussard's "Truth and falsity do not reside in sensory perception but in the act of judging that perception." Why? Instead of talking about trusting our judgment, you talk about trusting our senses.

      • I'm not ignoring that, and it is wrong. Truth and falsehood are independent of our senses or our perception. This issue engages epistemology of what we seem to perceive by our senses. There is no way to determine whether we are in a simulation, or bring deceived by some evil demon.

        • Once again, you skip a step. Here's a diagram:

             external reality (ER)
                    |
                    |
                    v
             sensory neurons (SN)
                    |
                    |
                    v
             judging of percepts (JP)
                    |
                    |
                    v
             idea of external reality (IER)

          Why do you insist that if a square tower is available at SN, that JP cannot use available context and produce something correct?

          An intriguing example of a system which may well improve human perception is the blind spot. Two papers on computer vision suggest that this could help to avoid over-fitting:

          Dropout: A Simple Way to Prevent Neural Networks from Overfitting
          Regularization of neural networks using dropconnect

          And yet, according to your logic, our cognitive system is 'lying' to us by not presenting the blind spots as they are, to our consciousness. After all, what our eyes 'really see' have two blind spots: one for each eye.

          • I don't insist on anything of the sort. What the problem of solipsism says is that all each of us has is IER and JP, which I see no reason to distinguish. I don't know if it available at SN. I don't know if I even have SN. I have to make assumptions.

            From the solipsist point of view i have no way to know if I can improve my blind spot or if I have one. I may have perfect vision, and am dreaming that I have a blind spot. And so on.

            I am not saying out cognitive system is lying. I am saying there is no way to know if it is lying, or perfectly accurate or something
            I in between.

            Here is a simple thought experiment. I put it to you that a week ago you and I decided to try this new video game that perfectly replicates life 100,000 years ago, in the twenty first century. We both went in knowing that we would forget everything about the real world and selves and would be put in totally different bodies, we would think we had been born in the 20th century and only when the game finished would we know who we really were and we would also remember the game.

            On what basis could you say this is not the case?

  • Dreams, yes Karlo is right that if one proposes one is dreaming one needs to justify it, but so does someone who contends he is not dreaming. The problem is that when we dream we generally are unaware of it. So how do we distinguish reality from dreams? It isn't by whether it feels like a dream. Perhaps that impossible things happen in dreams and not real life? How do we know that the experience where no impossible things happen is not the dream and the impossible world is the real world.

    Again there is no solution to this problem.

  • "Are there any good reasons to think we are being deceived by a malignant power? The obvious answer is no."

    Are there any good reasons to think we are not being deceived by a malignant being? The answer is also no. It would, in all senses be the same if it were real or if it were a deception.

    The issue is not that there is good reason to believe it is fake, but that there are no reasons to believe it is real or fake.

  • "It is impossible to reflect upon our sensory and cognitive faculties apart from their activities."

    Hang on, when did we start talking about "cognitive faculties" I thought we were talking about senses.

    "If doubting our cognitive faculties presupposes their use, then there is no way to question their validity."

    This is why Descartes concluded in this meditation on the most famous philosophical statement of I think therefore I am. All of my sense faculties can be wrong, I may even be wrong that I have senses. But even if I am being deceived by all this input or that there is any input at all, there must be some entity to be deceived. So I can doubt all my senses, and I can even doubt my own judgement, but I cannot doubt my own existence because there has to be some entity doing the doubting.

    Questioning the validity of cognitive or sensory faculties is easy. Confirming their validity is impossible.

    • If everything is 'deception', can you even talk about what 'deception' is?

      • Of course not. I am not saying it is or isn't. I'm saying we can't have any confidence one way or the other.

        • Ostensibly, you believe that not everything is deception. If so, how many other beliefs do you have where "we can't have any confidence one way or the other"?

          • Goodness no, I do not believe that everything is a deception. I make an assumption that what my senses observe is generally real. I just ignore the problem, and act like it isn't there.

            The other big problem of epistemology is the problem of induction. We have no reason to believe that a pattern in time will repeat. Just because the sun rises every day, that is no reason to believe it will tomorrow. Or just because an experiment has given the same result every time, that is no reason to believe it will next time. We make an unfounded assumption that patterns in the past entail they will continue in the future. We could point to the pattern that this has happened before but that is fatally circular reasoning.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    Furthermore, Descartes’s recognition of the man’s small stature as
    unusual presupposes his trust in his previous sensory experience of the
    man’s tall stature.
    ...one cannot doubt the senses without trusting them...

    I don't see why this is the case. Descartes sees a man who is small, and later sees that he is tall. He has two contrary pieces of information from the same sense, and so concludes that his sense is untrustworthy.

    If my doctor tells me that I have only one day left to live due to a horrible disease, and then immediately says that I am perfectly healthy, aren't I justified in not trusting him? Or would Mr Broussard say that in order to doubt my doctor, I must first presuppose trust in him. Therefore I should trust my doctor.

  • I expect that the silence from theists defending Mr Broussard on this will be deafening.

    • Craig Roberts

      The obvious does not require a defense. Theists have better things to do than convince deluded people that they are not living in the 'matrix'. What is semi interesting is the number of ostensibly staunch orthodox Catholic people that actually think that they ARE living in the 'matrix'!

      Steve Skojec, Ann Barnhardt, and Hillary White, are just some of the 'Catholic' bloggers that write extensively about how 'the Matrix' is a clear analogy for their Christian faith.

      So why bother trying to convince atheists that they are not in the "matrix" IF YOU CAN'T EVEN CONVINCE YOUR OWN CATHOLIC BROTHERS AND SISTERS!?

      • How is it obvious we are not in the matrix, or some other simulation? How would a simulation appear different?

        I agree we all have better things to do than tackle this old question and it is incredibly surprising that Karlo Broussard would raise it, or attempt to argue he has solved the problem.

        • Craig Roberts

          Just as any conversation starts with the assumption that all parties are at least sane enough to carry on a conversation, the innate trust in your own being is required to explore that being. Someone that believes they are living a delusion cannot explore the possibility that reality is what they think it is because they assume that they are wrong from the start.

          The real issue is our awareness of the fact that our knowledge is incomplete. Attempting to explore the unknown causes some to speculate about 'hidden knowledge' that will allow them to account for what they are intuitively aware that they do not know.

          This is the root of 'Gnosticism' and Christians have been dealing with it forever. Some people can't help but try to turn the gospel message into a secret club for only the select few elite that are privy to this secret knowledge that explains everything but for some mysterious reason only the enlightened (or elect, or illuminati, or whatever) can understand.

          • Well my own being is not something that requires an assumption or trust. Your own being can be demonstrated to exist with certainty. That is what Descartes discovered in his meditation. He determined that he can doubt everything, the universe, even his own body and senses. But what he could not doubt was that he was doubting, if all the rest was an illusion, there had to be someone being deceived. I think therefore I am.

            I really don't think this has anything to do with the completeness of knowledge, it has to do with epistemology. How can I know anything at all? Can I be certain of anything. All this argument does is demonstrate that in terms of empirical conclusions, we cannot have absolute certainty about anything but our own existence. Indeed for all empirical questions we do not really have any basis to distinguish anything our senses tell us from a situation in which we are a brain in a vat dreaming.

            This isn't to say that anyone really thinks like this. As you note we really have no choice but to assume out senses provide us with some reliable real information and that we can distinguish most of the time when they are wrong.

            But it is wrong to do as Karlo has done to argue things like you can use other senses confirm one sense.

          • Craig Roberts

            Interesting. If we are certain of our own existence how can we doubt the existence of others? To think that everybody, including our own parents, are some sort of robot, or illusion created for our senses is just silly. If we exist, our parents must have existed and so on and so forth back to whatever you assume our ultimate origins are. Any other conclusion is illogical.

          • No because the only way we know of our parents etc is our senses and we have no reason to trust our senses. But contrast we do not rely on our senses when we doubt all this. It's not the thought that they are robots, but that they don't exist at all any more than the people in our dreams exist. It is silly. But it's asking a serious question. I recommend reading the Descartes.

          • Craig Roberts

            Silly but serious. That's a very good description of the movie. On one level it's comic book kid stuff, on another level it poses serious questions about what we assume about reality.

          • It is the foundation of studying epistemology, it is responsible for the greatest achievement in philosophy.

          • Darren

            Brain Green Adams wrote,

            It is silly. But it's asking a serious question.

            Considering in the SN post about fine tuning that WLC and BV take the Boltzman brain hypothesis as a distinct possibility, perhaps not so silly.

            A Boltzman brain solipsism would be a much simpler (and more just, IMO) universe than the standard RC "the universe is real and created by an invisible transcendant being" and per the SN post vis.a.vis theology not needing to be falsifiable, such a hypothesis' complete un-falsifiability is no reason at all not to believe it.

          • Sure, I just mean the discussion seems silly, because I guess it is a reductio ad absurdum. But the meditation is an important tool in starting to think about epistemology.

            The solipsist position is not really the point, the point is that it places limits on what we can say we know with absolute certainty, about empirical questions, and concludes we can know virtually nothing.

            The issue comes up with some presuppositionalism attacks on atheists. They accuse atheists of being solipsistic that cannot know or take a position on anything. When the atheist denies being a solipsist but cannot demonstrate any basis for believing anything is real, the presup will accuse him of being illogical and say the only way to overcome solipsism is direct knowledge which can only be given by God.

          • Craig Roberts

            I think the question is analogous to "how can I know I'm not crazy?" If you are crazy you can't prove anything, but if you're not, the question is silly.

          • Craig Roberts

            Perhaps the real question should be: Does it make more sense to believe that we live in a fallen world that is ruled by the devil than 'the matrix'? Both assume that dark forces are in charge and that our only hope is to somehow escape from the spell that casts a pall on reality.

          • No, you're missing the point. On both options you've advanced the question of solipsism is ignored, which is fine.

            This issue is not about what is responsible for the dark forces or evil. It asks how can we trust what we observe is actually real. The matrix or the evil demon are just analogies. Another could be dreaming or being in a simulation run by a benevolent angel. Or being a character in a virtual reality who has forgotten his real identity.

          • Logike

            Mr. Roberts, like the author, is having a hard time grasping what the problem even is. It is not a question of whether it is reasonable to believe the matrix is real. Nor is it a question of whether the matrix as a logical possibility has, or can, be defeated. It is a question of whether we can know anything empirically if we don't know that the matrix is NOT real. None of these questions are the same questions. Sadly, that's what he doesn't understand, but it is a common mistake to make among philosophy undergrads.

            Another way of saying it is that the question is about the possibility of ANY empirical knowledge as such, not about whether this or that particular belief is reasonable to hold.

            "Is empirical knowledge possible at all if I don't know the matrix is real?" is different than "what reason do I have for believing the matrix is real"? Even if I have no good reason for believing the matrix is real, it obviously doesn't follow that I know the matrix is NOT real. So what of this? Well, if I don't know the matrix is not real, then I don't know that I have two hands either. This last sentence is what the author needs to challenge. Or, he needs to prove that the Matrix is not real. Those are his only two ways out.

          • Logike

            I take back what I said. There is a third way out that discuss above.

          • Logike

            Brian, what are your thoughts on Moore's famous "common sense" approach to this problem? He accepted for the sake of argument the skeptic's first premise (1), but performed a kind of reversal so that "the skeptic's modus ponens becomes my modus tollens."

            (1) If I don't know that I am not in the Matrix, then I don't know that I have two hands.
            (2) I know that I have two hands.
            (3) Therefore, I know that I am not in the Matrix.

            He argues to the effect that it seems to him more intuitively obvious that he knows that he has two hands than that he does not know that he is not in the Matrix. His point is that the skeptic no more has a case for skepticism than he has for knowledge.

            Deceptively simple, for sure. But I think he has a point. (That's not to say I am convinced by his argument as the more "obvious." Personally, I'm not sure.)

          • Well, I guess you can call it an approach, but it does nothing to solve the problem of of solopsism. The statement "I know I have two hands" is actually no more obvious or intuitive than "what I see with my eyes is real and not a dream/deception [etc]"

            I least this is what Descartes was investigating, whether there was any basis to determine whether things we seem to observe are real. He correctly concluded that he could not make any determinations other than his own existence.

            There is no solution to this problem, but it is a problem for everyone, and is really quite irrelevant, until people say they have solved it, or that they can be absolutely certain about something empirical.

          • Logike

            "I know I have two hands" is just essentially saying the same thing as "what I see with my eyes is real"--no? Do you mean to say that "I know I have two hands" is no more obvious than "I don't know that I am not in the Matrix"? If so, Moore would agree with you. I think his point was that the latter is no more plausible than the former, and vice versa.

            I don't think Moore's point was to prove that we are not in the
            Matrix. I think he was trying to prove, instead, that there is no good
            case for skepticism or solipsism. He was trying to argue that "I don't know that I am not in Matrix" is no more justified than the belief that "I know have two hands."

            That's why I said his argument is deceptively simple, but powerful nevertheless.

          • "I think he was trying to prove, instead, that there is no good
            case for skepticism or solipsism"

            I doubt that, there is no good reason not to be a solopsist.

            But I think I understand what you are getting at. I think what you are getting at is showing that, for most instances, the fact that we cannot distinguish reality from a perfectly real-feeling simulation, is meaningless.

            This not because we have any reason to believe we are not in the Matirx, but because we also have no reason to believe we are in the Matirx. Even for Neo in the movie Matrix, he never discovered whether he was or not either. While Neo had an experience of waking up in a tank and going to a ship etc. He had no better reason to think any of that was real either.

            Solipsism is not an approach to show that what we observe is not real. What it shows, is that we have no better reasons to believe it is real than it is fake. But this also means we have no better reason to think it is fake than real. But this goes for your hands as well as everything else you observe.

            It is a useful concept to contemplate because it places very narrow constraints on what we can say is known with certainty, with the amazing conclusion that we can actually know at least one thing with certainty.

          • Logike

            "What it shows, is that we have no better reasons to believe it is real than it is fake."

            --But this inability to distinguish the two appears to be inconsequential to the question of whether I know that I have two hands. Take as an illustration an ordinary trial-by-jury case where a defendant is being charged for murder. Suppose there is plenty of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty, and that there is no evidence to the contrary whatsoever that he was framed, or had a twin, etc. Now, it is certainly *possible* that the defendant was framed or had a twin, even though there is no evidence for these things. More importantly, these two alternative hypotheses are compatible with the evidence at hand. That is, we would have the exact same evidence if the defendant had a twin or if he were framed by the cops. Yet--and this is crucial--no reasonable person would say that the evidence were not enough to convict him because we hadn't yet ruled out these other possibilities, and that we, therefore, "didn't know" or had "no good reason" to believe the defendant was guilty. Of course we have good reasons for believing he is guilty: the defendant's knife at the scene of the crime, the matching DNA sample, and even a video recording catching him in the act, are all "good reasons" to believe that he did it. It is possible that he was framed, and I may not be certain that he was not. But it doesn't seem that I have to disprove all these (mere) possibilities before I can reasonably draw a conclusion about his guilt. The requirement is much too stringent.

            Analogously, I have good reason to believe that I have two hands, because sensory impressions suggests that I do. It is certainly *possible* that I am in the Matrix, and the evidence would look exactly the same if I were. But in the absence of any reason for supposing that I am in the Matrix, it's not necessarily the case that I don't know that I have two hands.

            Solipsism unabashedly presupposes as a condition of knowing that I first have to rule out the dreaming (matrix) hypothesis before I can know anything about the external world. But there is no reason to suppose this is a condition necessary to "know" anything about the empirical world.

            I think Descartes' and the skeptic's unspoken error is to equivocate certainty with knowledge. But in most day by day cases we don't do make this identification. It is enough that what we believe is true and that we have a good reason to believe it is true.

          • Again, like so many, you miss or ignore the problem solopsim presents. As you note, you take it as reasonable to infer you have two hands because your senses suggest you do. This presumes there is some reasonable basis to trust the senses are accurate, and this is precisely what Descartes is asking.

            What all this draws out is how incredibly strong this bias is that what our senses tell us is AT ALL trustworthy or untrustworthy. The error here is to accept that, but then conclude that it is reasonable to trust them. If that were true, it would be equally reasonable to not trust them.

            It actually is poor reasoning to say, I have no evidence one way or the other on the question of whether I actually have two hands, therefore I conclude I have two hands. What you are actually doing is saying I don't care that I have no way to confirm the accuracy of my senses, but if I take as an axiom that what my senses show me is at least somewhat accurate, and that consistent observation of patterns leads to more confidence in this accuracy, then I can make reasonable inferences about what exists and so on. That is what we all do, then yes we, can say it is reasonable to believe you have two hands.

            All this meditation does is demonstrate that these axioms are implied in all of of empirical inquiry. But they are axioms, they have to be assumed, there is no way to prove them. One's own existence however, is different. This need not be taken as an axiom, it can be proven to a certainty.

            But it is important to understand the problem of solipsism and also the problem of induction, when considering the foundations of an epistemological perspective.

          • Logike

            I didn't ignore the problem. In fact, I took it head on it in my last illustration which you completely ignored. I showed an instance where even if I cannot distinguish between two distinct hypotheses that are both compatible with the evidence, it is more reasonable to believe one over the other. Your "underdetermination" thesis is false, but you went on presupposing that it is true in your reply.

            I'll just wait for you to read my post again more closely...

          • No, I did not ignore your illustration, but the illustration relies on facts that are simply assumed to be true and real, or that are based on sense knowledge. The conclusion that it is reasonable to convict is premised on background knowledge of the likelihood of cops framing, there being a twin etc, and the defence being unable to call evidence to reasonably doubt the accused guilt. Versus the likelihood of the facts going to conviction are erroneous. All of this, in your illustration are presented as given, for the sake of argument. Doing this is a great way to discuss inferences on induction, but totally bypasses questions of epistemology. The question is how do we get the knowledge in the first place upon which to make such inferences. By stating this knowledge as a given you ignore the problem, just as we all do when we make the assumption that our senses reflect reality.

            What your illustration does is show that we do not need deductive arguments to be reasonable, we can be reasonable by inducting from things that seem to be the case without being certain. But such reasoning is premised on the assumption that what seems to be the case is likely to be the case. This is another problem with epistemology, we actually have no warrant for this either, it is called the problem of induction.

          • Logike

            "The conclusion that it is reasonable to convict is premised on
            background knowledge of the likelihood of cops framing, there being a twin etc, and the defence being unable to call evidence to reasonably doubt the accused guilt."

            --Exactly. So, the mere absence of this background knowledge does not automatically warrant skepticism toward the external
            world. How do you know that our inability to distinguish between "real" and "fake" with respect to the matrix hypothesis does not fit a similar paradigm?

          • Will

            (1) If I don't know that I am not in the Matrix, then I don't know that I have two hands.

            (2) I know that I have two hands.

            (3) Therefore, I know that I am not in the Matrix.

            If you were in a simulated universe you would have two hands in the simulation. You can know you have to hands, and be correct, and the whole thing (including your mind) be a simulation. Classical theism basically suggests that the physical universe is God's simulation, without Him, the simulation would immediately stop. Not so different from stopping an ancestor simulation supercomputer.
            You can never know, for certain, what lies outside of your reality. It doesn't matter, of course, even if we are in a simulation, it's our universe, simulated or not. Here is a very rigorous incarnation of the simulation argument, knowing you have two hands has nothing to do with it.

          • Logike

            That reminds me of Berkeley's Idealism where God performed that very role. He had difficulty accounting for the phenomenon of error, however.

    • Lazarus

      Sorry Brian, but I'm not sure what part of Broussard's article you believe needs defending?

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Or they have broken an arm and find typing left-handed to be slow and tiring.

      • Paul Brandon Rimmer

        In which case they have far better things to do than engage in internet arguments about hard solipsism. Like rest. :) Honestly, though, a theist with two perfectly working arms may not find much to gain arguing about hard solipsism. It's much more interesting to talk about why metaphysics absolutely has to come before epistemology. Which it does. Otherwise people end up arguing about hard solipsism, and working arms or not, who wants to do that?

        I'm sorry to hear that you are in pain and I hope you feel much better soon.

      • Lazarus

        Oowwwww. I hope you feel better soon.

    • ClayJames

      Doesn´t a defense need an attack?

      I remember you bringing up the Malignant Power argument as an argument against the belief in God. I think Broussard did a great job showing why that is not a good argument.

      • I understood that this article attempts to show the problem of solipsism has been overcome, it has not.

        Would anyone defend the argument?

        • Logike

          It has :-)

  • Logike

    Just because it cannot be shown that we are dreaming, it doesn't follow that we are not dreaming. The logical possibility has not been ruled out. The author is right that illusions are not good grounds for doubting the reliability of perception, as Descartes had tried to argue. But he seems completely unaware of the fact that the conditions of knowledge as such have not yet been established by first ruling out this undefeated matrix hypothesis which still hovers over all his clap trap like a brooding cloud.

    • It is not a question of whether a theory has been logically defeated. It is a question of whether it is reasonable to believe it. Are there more plausible theories that are also not defeated?

      • Logike

        No, it is not a question of whether it is reasonable to believe the matrix is real because no one is supposing that it is. Nor is it a question of whether the matrix as a logical possibility has, or can, be defeated. It probably hasn't been defeated and never will be. It is a question of whether we can know anything empirically if we don't know that the matrix is NOT real. None of these questions are the same questions. Sadly, that's what the author doesn't understand.

        The question is about the conditions of knowledge as such, not about whether this or that belief is reasonable to hold. The former is second-order question about the possibility or impossibility of empirical knowledge as a whole. The latter is a first-order question about what justification one has, if any, for a particular belief.

  • Jim (hillclimber)

    I think solipsism is always an interesting topic because if we start "mid-stream" in our epistemology by rejecting solipsism (as I think most of us probably do), it is then interesting to try to infer what "upstream" structure of our thoughts must have led to this rejection. There is some hope that by swimming upstream in this manner we will discover certain "first principles" that lie unrecognized at the wellspring of our beliefs.

    • I certainly think Descartes approach is a good one in starting to think about epistemology.

      Jim I'd be interested to know if you agree that the problem of solipsism has been solved, by Karlo or Descartes or whomever?

      • Jim (hillclimber)

        To the extent that anyone claims to rule out solipsism by reasoning deductively from supposedly more secure "first principles", I think they are wrong, but I don't think that is what Karlo was claiming to do. I think he had much less ambitious goals, and I think everything that he wrote is fine, as far as it goes.

        As I sort of indicated above, I think the rejection of solipsism is primarily a starting point (in the same way that an initial value for a optimization algorithm is a starting point), and only secondarily a conclusion. We (most of us) *begin* by knowing that we reject solipsism, at least in every practical sense. Perhaps we maintain some dormant side-hypothesis that solipsism could be correct, but our actions generally betray what we really believe. And in fact, I think our actions generally betray the fact that we disbelieve solipsism so strongly as to say that we "know" that it is wrong.

        Now, just because the rejection of solipsism is a starting point, that doesn't mean we need to stall there forever as if we are rock-headed presuppositionalists. Or to put it a different way, we can be critical realists rather than naive realists. We can iteratively re-assess our belief via cycles of hypothetico-deductive reasoning and observation. I think Karlo's point is that nothing we have discovered in our cycles of inference, deduction and observation have ever really given us good reason to move away from our initial stance of realism. The gradient of our objective function is flat, so to speak. That being the case, our knowledge rests where it first began: with the realist knowledge that solipsism is incorrect.

        Assuming one gets to that point, there is then the question of how we are able to "know" certain things, even where the inferential-deductive-observational gradient is flat. I have thoughts on that, but I don't want to drone on.

        • "To the extent that anyone claims to rule out solipsism by reasoning
          deductively from supposedly more secure "first principles", I think they
          are wrong, but I don't think that is what Karlo was claiming to do."

          What do you think he was trying to do then? It sure looked like he was responding to solopsim.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I think he is responding to the solipsist critique of realism, but he is arguing from a realist perspective, as if the onus is therefore on the skeptics to, as Karlo writes, "justify their doubt".

            I don't think Karlo's line of argument does much for someone whose default orientation to reality is one of doubt / mistrust. I am not sure if there is much one can do to rationally argue someone out of that sort of orientation. It seems to me that you either start with some fundamental trust of reality or you don't.

            Perhaps it is possible to show, as I think Luke Breuer was trying to do, that one can't harvest any (or many) of the fruits of rational thinking without first rejecting solipsism. I think that is probably true, though I can't say I've thought about it all that carefully. In any case, if that's true, it still doesn't force anyone to abandon solipsism, but it puts a pretty high price tag on sticking with it (as if the price wasn't high enough already).

  • Jason Lem

    "Look, just because it is logically possible that we are being deceived by a malignant power does not mean it is plausible. Logical possibility means only that there is no logical contradiction. Plausibility is present whenever there are good reasons for thinking something to be the case"

    You might want to keep this in mind when people use the morally sufficient reason rationalization (excuse) why God, the all powerful, all knowing, loving, perfect being allows baby cancer or didn't see fit too provide information on vaccinations on small pox, measles etc.

    Logical possible ? sure, plausible ? nah.

    • That Obama is really a pink unicorn is logically possible too.

    • ClayJames

      Logical possible ? sure, plausible ? nah.

      Would be interested in your argument for why it is implausible. In my experience, atheists love to give that statement as a rebutal to answering the problem of evil, but when asked to justify, they always come up short.

      • The argument for that being implausible is called the inductive problem of evil. Here's Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's expert summary of the main arguments.

        • ClayJames

          Oh I am very familiar with this argument and we have discussed it extensively on SN. I think the argument fails because it assumes and does not defend, that a limited mind can determine the probably intentions of an omniscient mind. Jason assumed this by saying that it is implausible for an omniscient, all powerful, all knowing God to allow terrible suffering to happen. I simply asked for his argument as to why it is implausible because every other attempt I have seen has failed.

          • Ah. BTW, rhetorical questions (where you feel you know the answer already but disagree with it) only work well in face-to-face conversation. In text conversation like here, they often just seem uselessly pugnacious.

            > it assumes and does not defend, that a limited mind can determine the probably intentions of an omniscient mind.

            Catholics make specific claims about their God's mind by way of comparison to human minds, and they also have a doctrine of analogy telling them they're allowed to do that. So obviously I'll have to reject your objection as inapplicable to Catholic ideas about god, while agreeing that it could be applicable to discussions of other conceivable divine minds.

          • ClayJames

            Ah. BTW, rhetorical questions (where you feel you know the answer already but disagree with it) only work well in face-to-face conversation. In text conversation like here, they often just seem uselessly pugnacious.

            It is not a rhetorical question. I am aware of the arguments usually presented that try to show that evil makes God implausible and they all fail. I am asking for an additional argument in order to defend this claim. This is no different than the atheist that believes all arguments for God fail and is asking the theist for an additional argument that might succeed. In no way is this rhetorical.

            Catholics make specific claims about their God's mind by way of comparison to human minds, and they also have a doctrine of analogy telling them they're allowed to do that. So obviously I'll have to reject your objection as inapplicable to Catholic ideas about god, while agreeing that it could be applicable to discussions of other conceivable divine minds.

            Specific Catholic beliefs about God´s intentions are a result of either direct or indirect revelation regarding God´s motives. This would only be analogous to the implausability of God´s existence given evil if the atheist wanted to argue that God has revealed, either directly or indirectly, that he probably has no good reason for allowing certain evil. I have yet to see an atheist make this seemingly self-refuting argument.

      • Jason Lem

        Occams Razor.

        • ClayJames

          No, you don´t understand Occams Razor if you think it applies here.

  • Peter

    How to compare a dream state with the state of being awake:

    1. Get drunk.
    2. Go to sleep.
    3. Dream.
    4. Wake up with a hangover.
    5. Realise that while you were dreaming you were neither drunk nor had a hangover.

  • Craig Roberts

    Seriously folks, is it any crazier to think that we are in 'the Matrix' than thinking that we are in a fallen world ruled by the devil? God created this world but the devil ruined it and now we all live under his evil dominion. What's the dif? Sheesh.

    • We do live in a world where evil seems very strong but we know in our hearts that good will triumph. This is what the matrix and many other stories trade on. Catholicism just says it rings true because it echoes to the truth. There is a huge difference between something that claims to be fiction touching on deep truth and something that claims to be that deeper truth.

      • Craig Roberts

        Where does this 'evil' come from? The devil didn't create himself.

        • Interesting question. Yet there must be an answer. Evil exists and it must have come from somewhere. Catholicism says God gave the angels moral testing. Some fell. Is it possible a good God could create creatures that face a moral test? Is it possible that some of them could fail? I mean there are not a lot of other possibilities. If good and evil exist and good is stronger but evil still is allowed some significant victories. What explains that? The free will idea does.

          Atheism's answer is that good and evil don't exist. That they are both illusions. That seems less plausible to me.

          • Craig Roberts

            Thank you for the thoughtful response. Freewill does not explain original sin. We did not personally choose to disobey God. As Catholics we (most of us) did not even choose to be baptized because we were baptized as babies. But this is in strict line with the gospel. "You did not choose me, but I chose you..." John 15:16

          • The question was not about original sin. It was about how the devil came to be.

            Original sin is a lack of divine love in our soul. Mankind was created with such a thing and it was lost when Adam and Eve chose to sin. Baptism gives us the grace to restore it. Yet we have to cooperate with that grace as we are able. We do have a notion inside us that we should be great lovers. Even though we are not and never have been and likely never will be we still have this idea we should be. Like we know we were meant to inherit such a thing but we just didn't.

          • Craig Roberts

            Thanks for the response. You really know your catechism. How do we 'cooperate' with grace if we have no sensory feedback from it? How can we tell the difference from 'grace' and our own fallen wills? If you ask God for 'grace' how will you know if you have received it or not?

            We are told by the Church that 'grace' is a free gift from God. But who wants a gift that will damn us to hell if we fail to properly utilize it. That's not free. That's some pretty big strings attached.

            I don't mean to sound confrontational but I'm just curious how believers can reconcile these things in their minds. I appreciate your feedback.

          • Thank for the question. We are not damned to hell if don't properly utilize grace. We are on the road to hell already. Grace is our only chance to get off it. Grace is simply about God helping us to change and become better people. Not doing it right is to be expected. The question is do we want to be the loving person God created us to be? Wanting it means we will persevere at the very messy process of learning to get over ourselves and become deeply holy.

            In the end grace is free not because we don't give up anything. We actually give up everything. It is free because what we are asked to give up is not worth anything. In fact those are the very things that are destroying us and the people around us. At first we only know this because God tells us so and we trust Him. Eventually we see clearly that this is true.

          • Doug Shaver

            We are on the road to hell already.

            So, hell is the default. I'm not going there because of anything I did, is that correct?

          • Yes and No. There are many reasons one ends up in hell. The lack of divine life coming from your parents is one. Then we go on to commit actual sins. Then we reject the grace God offers. The last one is really the one we can do something about.

          • David Nickol

            here are many reasons one ends up in hell. The lack of divine life coming from your parents is one.

            I don't understand, then, why it is now the Church's position that we can hope (but not state as a fact) that unbaptized infants (including aborted babies) go to heaven. According to the Catholic Church, unbaptized babies are "innocent" in that they have never personally committed a sin, but they are still not in a state of sanctifying grace, and they do not "deserve" salvation.

            The whole arrangement seems colossally unjust. the Limbo of Infants actually seemed to me to provide something akin to justice. But in reality that was speculation. I have argued with Protestants who claim that only those who explicitly embrace Jesus as their savior escape hell. That means unbaptized infants, anyone who rejects Christianity, and anyone who never heard of Christianity belongs in hell. It is all perfectly just and fair, they say, because nobody deserves heaven.

          • The church does not say we can hope but not state as fact. It says there are a variety of theological opinions that are permissible. We can hold one opinion and state it as fact. We just can't pretend that those who hold different opinions are obliged to hold that opinion. That is for the church and not for us and the church has chosen to allow freedom on this question.

            Regardless, people going to hell is not "colossally unjust." It is the just consequence of the human situation. We are separated from God. We deserve to go to hell. That is why we need grace. If hell was colossally unjust we would not need grace at all. What grace does God offer to unbaptized babies? I don't know. I do know that grace is the only way they or anyone else gets to heaven.

            You need to understand what heaven is. It is intimacy with God. It requires that we give everyone complete and unconditional love all the time. Anything less will cause the whole community to be less than it should be. So God won't allow it. We must be completely pure to enter heaven.

          • So many 'vague' statements' I can only wonder if my comments are 'incoherent' in this manner, or what the good/evil lord was after, when I couldn't express myself in the middle of a thought experiment. But I have to write my will- yes- I want to be responsible, and not follow the "Prince" when it's time to confront that 'darkness'....but it's turning out to be the biggest writing challenge that I have ever faced. So, hopefully, this is my Last Testimony. and I trust this can be considered to be everyone's good will!!!

          • Doug Shaver

            There are many reasons one ends up in hell.

            But the point is, I must do something in order not to go there, and so if I don't do it, I'm going there. That is what I understand the church to be saying. Is my understanding correct?

          • Yes but it is hardly possible to do nothing. You either embrace God or rebel against Him. Nobody remains neutral. So the notion of a default is really only theoretical.

            The church proposes something you can do that will get you to heaven. That is to live a life in sacramental union with the church. Like a rescue boat offering you a life line. You might not like the look of the boat and there may or may not be some other way to shore but the boat is guaranteed to make it. It is still your choice whether to grab the lifeline or not.

          • Doug Shaver

            You either embrace God or rebel against Him. Nobody remains neutral.

            That is a refrain I'm pretty familiar with, and I haven't heard it only from religious apologists. Many ideologues throughout history have said, "You're either for us or against us." None of them has done the world any good.

          • Doug Shaver

            The church proposes something you can do that will get you to heaven.

            But the church won't give me a good reason to believe it. At the end of the day, the church just insists that I trust it.

          • The church does not insist on anything. She keeps telling the truth and showing the way to God. She knows not everyone will believe.

          • Doug Shaver

            She keeps telling the truth

            Why should I believe that? Because you say so?

          • David Nickol

            But isn't the Catholic idea basically that evil doesn't "exist," but it is the absence of good? I don't think it makes sense to say that darkness exists. If there were no such thing as light, then there would be no such thing as darkness. A hole in the ground can't really exist if there is no ground.

            I don't really buy the idea, but it does seem to me that if you do, then evil doesn't really exist (as a "thing").

            Is it possible a good God could create creatures that face a moral test? Is it possible that some of them could fail?

            I remember a cartoon of a little kid showing his (very bad) report card to his parents and saying something like, "What do you think is the problem—heredity or environment?"

          • So what us your point? Evil is like darkness. We talk about it like it exists but deep down it is really an absence. Why does that impact what I said?

            The cartoon is good. We all know the kid is responsible. You can blame the parents but if you blame them completely then you really have to blame the grandparents. Yet if the parents were perfect would the kid have to be perfect? Could they let their kid make bad choices without being bad themselves?

          • David Nickol

            We talk about it like it exists but deep down it is really an absence. Why does that impact what I said?

            You said, "Evil exists and it must have come from somewhere." It seems to me, strictly speaking, that evil doesn't exist, just like darkness doesn't exist.

            The cartoon is good. We all know the kid is responsible.

            It really isn't that simple at all. It is a funny cartoon because our first reaction is that the kid is responsible. But both heredity and environment can be extremely important factors impacting a child's performance in school. The environment in which a child is raised will have a tremendous impact on his or her later performance. It is true that parenting doesn't totally determine how a child will perform, but it has a major impact. And what kind of people the parents are was influenced by their parents. So grandparents in many cases may be partly responsible for the way their grandchildren turn out.

          • I still don't get your point. You can say evil beings come from somewhere or you can say beings that lack goodness come from somewhere. It is a matter of which language you choose. One is more technically correct but more confusing.

            Still no idea how the "heredity and environment" thing relates.

          • There is an excellent treatment of this (evil as lack of 'being') in Kant's first critique....Check out Kant - various kinds of 'nothingness'...I will attempt to google it myself. it is a 'qualitative' distinction if I remember correctly....(As usual he goes through all the appropriate 'categories')
            And for raising kids - isn't the 'evil' that parents' can assume that they know it all, which makes the 'kid' 'evil' - sometimes you have to take chances, assume the 'kid' has some intelligence, and if you give him the opportunity, he does have the capacity, to think for him/her/they self (and if you have a little faith this may help even you to think for yourself rather than follow the 'norm' of what you 'think' are the social expectations in this and every other 'case'......beyond good and evil???? maybe???? the will to the emancipation of the good - by attaining the 'power' to 'release? the good'......is this possible? the way? do you think I really know what I'm talking about, or am i just 'talking'???? or 'writing' or 'something'....?? Is this good or evil? What do you think???

          • And as a woman, could I pass the buck- 'buck' interpreted either as a man or as money, ...and cry out...."What do you think is the problem- gender or sexuality?" Would that get me any free passage to or past the "toilets-secrets!" of the world, I wonder. (Hope this attempt at irony is 'understandable')

          • Doug Shaver

            Atheism's answer is that good and evil don't exist. That they are both illusions.

            My atheism does not give that answer.

          • Actually many atheists just ignore the question but the ones that take it seriously generally respond in a way that reduces to good and evil, as we think of them, don't exist. They are not a call to greatness but an artifact of evolution with questionable significance.

          • Doug Shaver

            Actually many atheists just ignore the question but the ones that take it seriously generally respond in a way that reduces to good and evil, as we think of them, don't exist.

            Their ontological status is a philosophical issue, and most atheists are not competent philosophers.

          • Most philosophers would prefer epistemology to ontology....because it is far more important for them to know than simply to be.. But Heidegger at least is among the 'new' with another kind of Thomistic interpretation of what is fundamental- that updates somewhat this priority in Aristotle, (as I understand the controversy) Do you think though that some kind of Platonic 'universal' or 'logos' is still required. Are the post-moderns 'making a mistake' I wonder, when some of them want to 'shelve' this???? what? of language. You see- I still am so confused about different possible interpretations that 'post' can mean, or refer to...(I say as I post this comment). (Just read (this is an edit. Mr. Nichol's comment on the qualitative definition of evil being the absence of good. That would be related to what? - sensation - or the empirical - rather than 'thought' per se? (Edit: there is no good and evil? paraphrase, but 'thinking' makes it so, or something?) These suggestions would, each one, demand I believe a book, or many, for full treatment, - and of course time, much time....

          • Doug Shaver

            Do you think though that some kind of Platonic 'universal' or 'logos' is still required.

            No, I don't, if I'm understanding your question correctly,

          • Thanks for your reply Doug. I went on a kind of 'binge' here, yesterday, so I appreciate your wording 'understanding your question correctly' within that context. Yes. An attempt to 'define' the terms 'universal' and 'logos' could lead to multiple discussions. Is it about a 'God' concept or about 'language'? to begin. It's OK - I 'appreciate your 'disbelief'!!! if I may use those words! So... Not to worry, Doug. I'm going directly back into that noisy silence within, wherein dwells those 'infinite speculations' regarding even the 'meaning of my own words'! But gratefully, no 'argument(s)'.... Take care! :)

          • I have noticed that

          • Yeah! See no evil...think no evil. Shakespeare: it's all in the mind. Nietzsche's 'beyond good and evil'...perhaps just means 'getting down to earth'....(I'm trying....because it is most difficult to 'get down to earth' because it requires you to become a superman, and I'm a woman, which is particularly difficult because when it comes to such things as sexuality, power, etc. the cards are still not (I suggest) stacked in your favor....And so again, it depends on whether you are the state or just a little individual looking for some empowerment, - and not that universality of dictated 'will to power' OVER another!!

            Edit: I have just seen Doug's response below....yes you have to be aware of all kinds of deceptions....especially a confusion between what is good and what is 'not'...good...if I may avoid the good and evil dichotomy by a mere 'change of words'.!! For this reason, I'm with Doug.

          • Should you dismiss something because you are not 100% sure you are not being deceived? I mean any sense could be deceiving us but it would be foolish for us to ignore what they tell us. Why not trust our soiritual senses?

          • I just found your article now when the comments were e-mailed to me. Have been busy getting caught up with all of them. Good day here! Commentators have so far raised the distinction between epistemology and ontology. Where does 'wisdom' fit into this duality. My interest in these posts is merely personal. Indeed, that has always been my incentive for studying philosophy throughout my whole life. So could this 'idea' of wisdom perhaps be another way of presenting what you could be referring to as spiritual senses? Would wisdom attempt to achieve a synthesis of both what we can know, epistemology, and within a life experience, - an ontology?

            Can we therefore speak of this issue within a narrative rather than a logically structured argumentative process or discussion? Indeed, before AT I do believe that the major Catholic philosophers presented their thought in (Cartesian) meditations, and in cases like The Confessions were indeed biographical, and personal. Within this context I believe that in a past life I would have indeed been most understanding of Luther's statement that 'reason is a whore', a 'remembrance' that I expressed earlier.

            Narrative places the 'question', any question, even that of solipsism within the framework of language, or thought, in any of its forms, thought, word, and even deed! that is related within a 'living context'. Is language not the domain that separates us from the instinctive -intuitive? nature that is credited to non sapient animals? Yet I have seen animals frightened of their perception of them-selves within a mirror, frightened of other animals which one can presume they have never seen before etc. etc. etc. But, like humans, these animals are not apt to 'ignore' that there is something incongruous about the situation, whether you say they are involved in a sense experience, or some kind of cognitive-even if only instinctive thought process. Perhaps the higher capacity with respect to such distinctions can be correlated to a more appropriate and accurate use of the 'word' deception. Perhaps such an increase in the 'power of deception' and its possibilities could extend to such (in your words - spiritual 'senses') phenomena as moral deception or even -self- deception.

            The interesting thing about this 'simulacra' idea is the suggestion that there is always the possibility of 'deception'....from simply mistaking one thing for another, to the ultimate denial of the possibility of deception or error within any of our experiences, particularly with respect to our 'self-....The 'God' concept (if you will allow a naturalist interpretation) is perhaps the/a most accurate presentation for even the 'possibility' of an analysis, of a self-referential conception that seeks to place the objective and the subjective aspects of such a 'concept' within a 'theological' or may I say 'personal' context, in which we can attempt to see, and even speak to our 'selves', and thus place this discussion within what I 'understand' you refer to as a 'spiritual' context.

            Gee, I really feel I could get into this. But I must discipline myself - so perhaps on this basis i can get back to your question? Can we develop our awareness, (within say, (to provide an alternative), a Buddhist context,) of all of our senses, even that which you describe as spiritual? Here, perhaps we must admit of the physical limitations of the senses, as the basis of our experience, even if we are not considered to bear the burden of a medical disability. And of course, development of our thinking capacities is of course, also imperative, and may also include what could be described as various limitations. Yet, we live to learn, would be the best way perhaps of describing the hope that we will develop our capacities, including the possibility that we will, someday, not be deceived by deceptions. Even those of our own making....

            Perhaps we could remember that it is 'life experience' that is primarily identified with the meaning of 'wisdom'. I can imagine that even that pussy-cat, in that he kept going back to that mirror, each time jumping in alarm, not being able to understand 'who' was in the mirror, was also attempting to develop his power to overcome deception, each attempt bringing another possible failure, and yet he continued in his efforts to conquer his fear, returning to the source of the problem.... again, and again and again. Thanks.

          • Lots of thoughts there. I will respond to just 2. One is the distinction between pure logic and story-based thinking. I think we need both. I always tend towards the logical but I do look for good stories that make the same points. I know that for most people logic does not really convince them. In fact, many that think they are logical are actually more convinced by non-rational data than they realize. The stories fly under the radar.

            One danger I see in stories is that sentimentality can dominate. I think principles are more consistent. I was just watching a piece on euthanasia and nobody on either side of the debate tried any moral reasoning at all. Every speaker appealed to sentiment. I think that is dangerous. Pope Benedict said that without truth love reduces to sentimentality and becomes and empty shell to be filled in an arbitrary way. I find that is true. Every position has some sob story in its side.

            The other idea I wanted to react to is you talk about eventually fixing human reason. That humanity can at some point rid itself of the deception and the bias and arrive at a form of reason that is actually trustworthy. It strikes me as looking for salvation through human progress. Humans have been talking about that for thousands of years. Can we find a way to rid human society of the evils that plague it? The problem is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was right. The line between good and evil runs through every human heart. So our reasoning is deeply impacted by that battle inside our soul. At the end of the day we end up needing to trust someone.

          • Thank you Randy. It is (blank intentional), that I am finding that there is a real communication happening even within this short conversation. May I just select a few of your comments and make a response/answer to them, without any overall conclusion?
            With respect to truth and sentimentality. The example which most readily comes to my mind, is the sentimentality that I encountered in my studies that was first associated with David Hume. Of course we are aware of the differences within the Grecian/Roman types: agape being perhaps the only one which is related to reason in a crucial manner.(Just did a Google search - always learning something new - I was familiar with four kinds - and then find this: http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/the-ancient-greeks-6-words-for-love-and-why-knowing-them-can-change-your-life
            So the sentimentality is perhaps what "I" associate with a kind of self-pitying, or over-attachment, perhaps either to the self or another. These are difficult topics to put into words, yes? and so the need/use of poetry and analogy?

            But firstly, no, I do not think, nor do I intend to say that we can or need to correct human reasoning to the 'point where it is 'trustworthy'. This trustworthiness would logically be then the opposite/balm perhaps to living in a world in which we are vulnerable to deception. Yes? The point of putting in the reference to the 'pussy-cat- was that although his cognitive abilities are 'presumed' not to entail self-consciousness, he must have had 'some' kind of consciousness, of a negative element perhaps of this capacity in order to differentiate that the image in the mirror was in some way 'different' from what he normally encountered with 'the world'. Would you say that he was in some way, aware of some kind of 'deception'. How would you describe such 'speculation' about what constitutes this and other kinds of 'mental phenomena'. I would have to compare the problematic about writing up this analogy, to that of what I could imagine in presenting as a comparison, the 'image of the cat in this situation', perhaps even to man being made in the 'image of God'. Why would I want to make these kinds of 'associations'? Why could I prefer such to 'logic'? Analogy: is perhaps for the reason that it is actually a form of reasoning, and indeed what characterizes language as 'fundamentally metaphorical', one of the main methods used within AT metaphysics in order to bring us closer to an 'idea' of GOD. (And also allows me not to commit to any definitive conclusion that I 'know' what or who God is, from my limited personal perspective. I recently read a distinction between knowing that- logic, towards God, and in God, the latter two suggesting to me more of an experiential than a logical 'process'. (Thomas Aquinas Institute-Marshall Taylor). From my experience, and 'choice', this perhaps will indicate another reason why I prefer narrative to logical argument, particularly because I find it so difficult to come up with 'true premises'!! How can we 'correct' what we are not even capable of 'understanding' what is to be corrected? No we can only stand before the mirror, and jump back whenever we become a little 'disturbed', (like the pussy cat) by what we see. But can we learn?????

            I no longer read through the philosophy books, even those I bought specifically for the purpose of reading in my retirement. (Physically the internet is easier, in any case).
            I do 'search for correlates'. I do realize that I didn't understand what I read in the way that I thought I did. I am just beginning to realize the significance of Hume's reduction of knowledge to associative thinking, the problem of induction, the problem of whether synthetic a priori words or ideas are possible, and indeed in all of these cases, attempting to find a more secure, experiential relation (that is as understood within the context of my personal life), to the actual concepts, not 'merely' on the basis of definition, or logic,but on the use, meaning, transformations that occur when placed within the different language contexts I can remember and 'imagine' and within my personal life experience. Could these 'thought experiments' be regarded as a kind of scientific attempt to test these ideas, to become more conscious of...(And at this point I suddenly had the instinct to Google and found that it might take less space to direct the conversation at this point to a writer I have never had the opportunity to read. As well as giving the link however, I have also chosen a quote as a summary of what I was hoping to say here but of particular interest, of course is his perspective on 'the arts': https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Aleksandr_Solzhenitsyn So what did I choose as my favorite quote: This: A man should build a house with his own hands before he calls himself an engineer.

            I'll have to remember these words, not only in relation to my life-long interest in the arts, but to how my perception! of philosophy, the arguments! in this forum,--- oh so many references could be given. I simply must remember not to think of myself as an 'engineer'!!! With respect to your last comment then, it does provide perhaps a good summary of the points you raised. The answer and the question (the latter is what we perhaps should consider, as Heidegger suggested, the best perspective to assume in this case) as both relate to 'building the house'.

            I would like to keep in touch. Some time ago I deleted all my followers/following from Disquis. A link to the book that will be a never ending attempt to be that 'great writer' Solzhenitsyn talks about - (the reality is that with a minimum of 40,000 writers just in America, we are living within a context that 'duplicates' the situation in 'declining' Rome, which prompted the satires of Juvenal on this and other subjects). I find myself following politics and still caught up in almost an OCD to check up on what is happening here. For months I have been attempting to make a permanent break. And I want to finish writing my will. etc. etc. But perhaps this comment could provide a link, if you ever consider it fruitful to speak about any issue.
            As I suggested, I realize that I took it just on 'trust'? that I understood Kant - particularly in his relation to Hume. But the establishment of his philosophy was based on 'transcendental deductions' - and as I am finding is 'often/always' the case, perhaps I did understand the logic, -it at least made sense to me at the time I read it --(making sense? is this a correct choice of words?) -but!!!! could I explain this to you 'now'??? Passive/active knowledge distinction, again? Well, maybe I really am 'getting old'....sometimes I find that my intuitions were oh, so right, although I have always put the case that it's logic that is the only dependable, as a check perhaps. So I can't communicate to others, all of the thoughts that have 'streamed' through my consciousness - none of us can. The term 'trust' you suggested, is another thought, word, of perhaps a division of the concept or state of being we call 'faith' - a more 'specific' concept, perhaps. Will I get back to the book? Will I....there is that idea I remember that is directed to an understanding of 'surrender' - my neurons or the muses, or the Holy Ghost must be working very hard, ----I can only revert into some kind of awed, or 'noisy' sound of silence, when I think of the perhaps infinities of reference, meaning, sense, .... that can/could be involved within even a single word.
            Thanks so much for your time, and (I trust) your friendship.

          • With all of the Google searches- I seemed to have opened two comment boxes on the same subject.....That's an interesting little 'analogy' for some of my thought processes!~!!!

          • Dear Randy: It's morning, and I awoke to the thought that there was a 'gap' within our discussion. That something was not complete. And yes- it is whether the 'sentimentality of Hume is directly 'related' to 'moral theory'. The first time I encountered Hume I was 'more than astonished'; I was 'insulted'. Especially as I was raised a Christian and thus was familiar with the gradations of reason from animals to angels, etc. But now...I find the need to reflect more and more, in the 'hope' of understanding 'how' "we?" think. - So here's what I found from a Google search....Enjoy. (I'm giving you 'all of them' as a 'present' ) - I do like a little 'humor' - enjoy.

            Hume's Moral Philosophy. First published Fri Oct 29, ... given his sentimentalism, ... 1982, David Hume: Common-Sense Moralist, Sceptical Metaphysician, ...

            Reason vs Sentiment as a basis for morality. |...

            beatsviews.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/reason-vs-sentiment-as...Cached

            Does Kant prove that reason rather than sentiment provides us with the basis for morality? Should we prefer Kant’s view of morality to Hume’s view?

            Moral Sentimentalism (Stanford Encyclopedia of...

            plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-sentimentalism

            (See David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature (T), ... Approval, and Disapproval in Moral Sentimentalism,” Southern Journal of Philosophy, 49(Supplement): 134–141.

            Moral sense theory - Wikipedia, the free...

            But Kant really is 'all reason'...(whatever you 'think' that 'is'! it really takes a lot of study and time to really 'see the differences').....And then I am reminded: from Chabad (Yes, I finally have a way to study Judaism) we have 'free will'!! - but of course it is a 'little more difficult' to understand what that is, or truly!! means....!!!!!
            The Rabbi says:

            What do we bring to the table?
            Our brains, our power, our beauty, are all from Him.
            We can decide with our own free will to do good and to restrain ourselves from the opposite. Yet even then we are only playing our role in the script for which we were formed.
            But when we mess up, we can call out to the Infinite Light, and say “Dad, I still love you. Do you still love me?” And ask forgiveness.
            That is not in the script. That is from beyond. Way beyond.

            May you have a good life, no matter what you or I or anyone 'thinks'!!! Your own beliefs are yours to own!!!!

            en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentimentalism_(philosophy)Cached

            Moral sense theory (also known as sentimentalism) is a theory in moral epistemology and meta-ethics concerning the discovery of moral truths. Moral sense theory ...

          • Dear Randy. Please be patient with me. This morning I had the courage to Google - Kant: the Transcendental Deductions: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-transcendental/

            First of all a confession. I did not have the energy needed to read all of it. I also realize that I must pay more attention to argument than I have been acknowledging. Also even reading what I did, I am still unable to ascertain whether those 'immediate/internal' thoughts (with or without words) are mere associations based on remembrance - memory, imagination etc. etc. as I understand that they still require 'synthesis'. So when it comes to the difference between Catholic Transcendental Realism, and Kant's Transcendental Idealism, I still (if I may be colloquial) am not able to put it all together- i.e. make a synthesis. Assuming that you have a better capacity in this respect, may I suggest that even within my limited understanding I could see the possibilities of 'inference' both to a Real God,and an empirical cat- if you will allow this 'poetic' conflation of concepts. And consequently I can only regard as 'possible' an apperception' - of a complete unity - yes to admit of some possibility of wholeness and integrity, perhaps, but that also I shall be seeking a clear and distinct image in that 'mirror' for quite some time to come.
            I shall consequently put this article in my folder - and it looks like I'm back to my study of Kant- and the conjecture that whether or not he really or conclusively reduced 'metaphysics' to a materiality is perhaps questionable. But, if you accept what such an interpretation is based upon, may I suggest that his influence on the philosophies from pragmatism to analytic philosophy do not always follow the importance I suggest of the 'subject' or human individual, and that they perhaps do not suggest the need to attain that synthesis that he suggested was a relationship of 'subject' (the self) to 'object' or what? - external reality or of a personal understanding of one's own associations within one's interior state of mind? ---

            No I'm not ready for 'argument'....but yes, my attempt to understand Kant through three readings of his works perhaps was not 'absolutely' in vain, but certainly could be thought to constitute some 'vanity'. Thanks.
            http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-transcendental/ Edit: Oh! I already gave you this link....Let's just say it splits the synthesis between the cat and ....!!! (Irony is my fall back, I confess). It would be preferable to attempt to convey some of the quick ideas that came to me concerning a 'grand synthesis' or unity, that could be attributable to a being we call 'God', but I'm not ready to do that - in 'actuality'--- again pardon my humor! But I 'imagine' that Kant was the only, or perhaps the last modern philosopher who attempted to include both the empirical and the rational within a systematic treatment. For this reason I still prefer the 'idea' of his philosophy, to either Heidegger and/or Nietzsche....but am beginning to understand how the history has proceeded through a pragmatic analysis of language, through the anti-psychological scientific examination by the analytic guys, and now to an attempt to understand 'poetic' discourse. And it gives me the courage to say: if only as an image that - I am -that- or -what- I am????? despite the inevitability of human imperfection, even amongst the 'greatest' of the philosophers....

          • Darren

            Loreen Lee wrote,

            Dear Randy. Please be patient with me. This morning I had the courage to Google - Kant...

            Careful, there. Kant, more than anyone, led me to Atheism. Hard to reconcile the Categorical Imperative with the Christian God actually being anything resembling Good.

            Perhaps this accounts for the poor regard he seems to be held in around Strange Notions parts.

          • Thanks Darren: I struggled through three readings of Kant's CofPR during my life. I found his third critique the most valuable one. it was a constant struggle even to understand his writing style, and going back to the on-line commentary confirmed again the conflicts among even the 'elite' professions in coming to any conclusive agreement. But I still am caught within the 'challenge' that he poses, although I am content that my understanding of what he is 'saying' will never be up to par for 'argument'. So, yes, he has had a good effect on me....because he has so many interesting and important things to say. I've been back again into the contest between his writings and those of Hume,for instance in the last month.

            Just in attempting to understand how I can or even do - put thoughts together. I am not convinced for instance by any absolute a prior with respect to the concepts I attempt to understand, even those used in the writing of this comment. My understanding of concepts, if this is an acceptable criteria, do change, and hopefully grow with respect to how I put them to use. But perhaps this is assumed in the technical significance that places concepts or language as that which in some way governs our 'judgment' generally, of experience, or sensation, etc. etc. The concept in this case, would be analogous with The Christian concept of the Word, but within what we understand the meaning of secular to entail.

            Please no worry...I've been a reader of 'atheist' literature all of my life. In that sense, if this involves my damnation, or something like that, may I assure you that I have at least mentally!!! survived. I do not discount the importance of the enlightenment. Language I believe has become more 'precise' within this process.

            Perhaps we are in some trouble today, however. But I must admit to you, that there are many contradictions which my almost null reading of AT etc. etc. have led me to question certain even Catholic teachings in this regard. In many cases I am not confident to access or determine what "I" actually think with respect to many of these issues. Please Note the scare quotes around the "I"... As far as the Categorical Imperative being compatible with scripture, isn't it true that the rationality of even Aquinas and Aristotle, etc. can be the source of similar contradictions and great 'argument'.

            I maintain that I 'can' be an 'agnostic'. I'm between naturalism/theism, the real and the ideal, etc. etc. etc. I'm simply attempting to develop my consciousness or the ability to be 'aware'. Which really is something that I can't control, entirely. So yes I understand the term 'gift'. Perhaps, hopefully, once again I will be able to leave these discussions!!!???? I have put forth this 'desire' for quite some time, but continue to be 'sucked up' into the topics under discussion. I'm in my mid-seventies and just can't read those heavy books any more....I've also become more and more 'personal' in my writings with age. And my vision is 'limited'.... Not to 'worry'....

            With respect to your expression of being uncomfortable with a no-God - thesis, it is possible that there 'is' a negation of the negation process. But my feeling towards what Kant attempted at least to achieve, will not be put aside as a futile effort on my part to understand. Indeed, it would be my 'stand' that Catholicism could be more confident of the truth, if a more detailed engagement could be made with respect to the many alternatives both in religions and philosophies.
            I shall merely attempt to proceed within the limitations that constitute my understanding.....

            I feel I have been privileged to test my abilities with respect to philosophers from Zeno to those who express their ideas in various forms of evangelical certainty, whether as skeptics or believers. I am just delighted whenever I find even one little distinction that in some way can affect my appreciation of 'realities' within a broader context. The theodicy arguments for instance. In just coming from reading another commentary of Kant, I was able, at least for a moment to put the natural and moral orders of reality within a different context. I understand better now that yes, what we call the metaphysical, does indeed deal primarily with structure and order. I shall seek to establish a more secure foundation for such a thought.

            I shall search out hopefully to find the good, even within the thought of 'a-theists'. And indeed does not each philosopher, nay each individual express themselves 'differently'..... I am merely of the 'opinion' that it is possible to find 'correlates' between them, whether or not correlates correlate with causality. I do this because I 'believe' that there is a correlate between the terms causality and reason!!! Being at least a witness to the arguments on this sight, I am often amazed to find the variation of interpretation, with respect not only to this example of differences of words within language, but to entire philosophies, and even 'opinions' concerning the validity, suitability etc. of not only the comments but the individuals themselves. So with respect to your 'fear', perhaps understand that we very often are 'not' what we think we are, let alone what others think we are. There may be similarity between any attempt made by an individual to develop as an individual in love and understanding and what is regarded as a religious teleological purpose to become like 'God'....

            No thought does not come to me in leaps and bounds, and I am at least appreciative of Kant when he makes such a statement that because of this, we surely must be immortal, for it will surely take that long to get to heaven!!!! All my love Darren.

          • But Darren: I did make a discovery in reading one of the commentaries on Kant today. it was stated that the concept of the good within the third book - On the agreeable, beauty and the sublime, does acknowledge the concepts of both universality and necessity within particularly moral beauty, and perhaps others. Kant's trilogy was initially interesting to me because I discerned that it was an adaptation of the Trinity within Catholic orthodoxy, and I found this to be more than a structural correlate. Thus, my previous understanding of the categorical imperative in its relation of these concepts was challenged. Still working on it. It is true, still, though I believe that reason is held to be prior to such 'concepts' as goodness, within the relations identified with ethos, or a practical reasoning. This may account for why within the domain of say, the golden rule, these concepts with respect to the individual are held as regulative, - the presumption being that the human individual cannot institute (goodness) within this universal context, which (my understanding) is identified to be the Logos/Reason of the Incarnation, within Christ, as human as well as divine, and thus still a human 'individual'....but(as the all!) divine.

            However, goodness, as beauty and order, can be related to Christian concepts of the Holy Ghost at least within my attempt to find coherence within all of these diverse interpretations and find an application of concepts common to us all within language. (From this perhaps, on the return of Jesus, the final judgment will be made, in that moral order will be 'judged' under or within a 'true' rational universal context, rather than that as assigned on the basis of individuality at death. (This is my speculation here, please understand. But I would not have thought of this without the help of Kant's philosophy, whether or not it would be considered true by anyone else, let alone the Church. it is also my belief that Jesus did not make such judgment (as with the case of the adulterous woman- and casting the first stone) -also as particular judgments, but that such judgment will be his within the universal context of the Final Judgment!!!!)

            I also believe, we always have a choice with respect to what we 'can choose' to learn from others, as well as a developing ability on how to interpret 'our' world. To be true to the subject matter of this post - this we can take just as another example of how we can manage living within any kind of simulacrum that is or can even be thought to be imposed upon us!!! We can 'believe' at least (William James) that we have the freedom of will- even if this is only towards acknowledging a goodness within the context of our aesthetic appreciation, and thus the possibility of developing that vision called - beatific!!! (I presume you have at least at one time been 'Catholic'!!!!)

            Edit: Will be back - just received a relevant post from Just Thomism. I'm back. Here you see - a completely different interpretation by a Thomist, who I now understand has ironically ties with the post-moderns.. (as suggested by the term Kantian -anti-metaphysics....) If you have never heard about all the relationships between a prior- a posteriori, etc. etc. though, this might be an interesting way to make such distinction or provide a schemata for understanding the syntax of language generally. We are free to attempt to find our own 'coherence' within the concepts that we find however - although it is true- as the evil lord pointed out, that sometimes this is difficult for me to accomplish!!! All the best-
            https://thomism.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/a-contemporary-kantian-anti-metaphysics/

          • Rob Abney

            Hi Darren,
            I'd like to hear more about this difficulty you've had, in my limited understanding of the Categorical Imperative it seems to be a perfect match of the God of classical theism.
            Do you mind telling how the Christian God fails to be Good from your perspective?

          • P.S. Edit: and to bring my Disquis account to a final 2325!! I felt this was important as it came as a kind of 'verification' of a previous e-mail, which concluded with the third element of the 'concept' of 'free will'. I no longer place this concept (for humans) within the trilogy with the 'good' Will- i.e. act/Act but with the 'good' analyzed by Kant in his power of Judgment- i.e. within the domain of beauty, order - the Holy Ghost- innumerable correlates here.... But this topic is about that terrible idea of deception as suggested by the simulacrum....So perhaps there is no necessary 'relation' between these - within what? associative thought- but then -freedom is the recognition- of 'real?' necessity - and that idea perhaps also speaks to the paradox involved within the concept of a 'free will'....I am grateful that I have at least had the opportunity to read so much philosophy in my life...but you know what? I still don't have any inclination, desire, whatever, to involve myself in 'argument'....Perhaps instead of the idea of the analytic - 'descriptive metaphysics' is more suitable to 'scripture' of any kind....whether or not it is considered to be 'revelatory'...This site is certainly not the forum for 'doing philosophy' although I shall ever be grateful for the 'links' it has given me, and the introductions of areas of understanding that I would never have considered a possibility to explore. This is -The end......Promise!

      • Doug Shaver

        but we know in our hearts that good will triumph.

        I'm assuming that "in our hearts" is a metaphor. For what?

        • If you have to ask you won't understand it. Just a sense of things that seems very deep and reliable. That we can trust our senses. That we are here for a reason. That we want to be good and not evil. We know these things. We can ignore that data but that does not seem right either.

          • Doug Shaver

            If you have to ask you won't understand it.

            I could have guessed. I had to ask because I knew I might have guessed wrong.

            Just a sense of things that seems very deep and reliable.

            That sounds just like what is often referred to as a "gut feeling." That is what I think people usually mean when they talk about knowing something in their heart.

            We can ignore that data but that does not seem right either.

            We should never ignore relevant data, but reasonable people may disagree about what those data are actually telling us.

          • Quote: I could have guessed. I had to ask because I knew I might have guessed wrong.

            But, eh! I read a comment by a scientist who said that the basis of science was indeed 'guesswork'. And knowing that it is? well is that not the genius/humility of Socrates.....my guess is that you are most intelligent...but of course, I could be wrong.

          • Doug Shaver

            I read a comment by a scientist who said that the basis of science was indeed 'guesswork'.

            Without reading that scientist's comment in his own words, and in their original context, I can't be sure what point he was trying to make, Taking the statement at face value, though, I'd say he was mistaken.

          • IIRC he was talking about 'hypothesis', saying that the general case is that there are many such 'guesses' made within the context of many experiments. In other words, there is in science as well as the common choices made within this simulacra of experience some possibility of error!!! All 'hypothesis' are constantly being tested by the 'reality' of 'experience'. Even a well held scientific theory is, as discussed in the argument on falsification, 'necessarily' subject to revision. That I believe, was simply, the point of Popper's 'theory'. If it is even assumed that no testing is required, then 'who needs the theory of falsification/verification etc.?- if I can make this argument another subject of 'irony''.

            In Kant's categories this 'guesswork' would fall, within the category of relationship, precisely within the second possibility of an interpretation of Aristotle's principles that seek an avoidance of contradiction: logically- the hypothetical. In the if-then context of this hypothetical 'guesswork', the scientist merely suggested a generality within the similarity of meaning/reference between the two words: hypothesis and guessing.
            However, in the case of the categorical, the assertive, I would go along with Derrida, that the polarities within the 'ever-present' dynamics of contradiction, are merely resolved, by 'choosing one rather than the other' and sticking with the choice. Good over evil.. within the criteria of 'pure abstraction' perhaps though!!! God against the devil, perhaps as another example. With respect to good or evil, I guess!, to generalize the given topic, very often, it is believed! than an infallibility is possible, because justification comes from (the?) 'faith' rather than following the dictum: knowledge is true justified belief (by logic? and experience? in the natural world? and not merely on faith). Is faith however, a belief system, or on the level of reason, the possibilities within thought generally: imagination, memory, all those neurons, etc. which would contrast with an 'understanding' (within Kant's CR) that falls under a specific pre-determined a priori concept.
            Thus one possibility of simulacra- is the inevitability that this reality(of 'the world!) is derived logically? from the 'hypothetical'. We live, in other words, in a temporal world, which 'necessarily' has as its most essential characteristic- the dynamics of 'change'.
            Edit: Another possibility of living within a 'simulacra' is living without an attempt or ability to check out one's beliefs within one's experience. This does not necessarily deny any dogmatic interpretation of 'faith' that is set within a criteria of belief. However, the possibility of following such a pursuit blindly could perhaps also be described as living within a 'simulacra'. It must be remembered then that such conformity is possible within many social contexts, and ideologies, many of which can even contradict or be coercive with respect to the intellectual and/or development of a free will (auto-poiesis) of an individual, creating thereby another kind of simulacra.

            To be more specific: this situation we find ourselves in, could also refer to the possibility of some kind of 'acceptance' of the/a specific 'simulacra- even that of contradiction. I trust the subtleties between the parameters of faith and belief here is 'obvious'.... My objection would be: Is faith always aligned justifiably with 'belief'..? I thus live within the 'assumption' that I can live a paradoxical (as per Kierkegaard) faith without any specific dogmatic belief, or better put, any confusion of the two terms. This is accomplished better, I have found within some level of acceptance of 'all' possibilities within this domain of the skeptical structuring or metaphysics within the area of 'how does one live one's life?' So yes, I'm with those scientists for instance who note the necessity of a 'supreme' regulative concept, if only as a possibility.. Please don't ask me for a quote on this, it comes from an article by Sample which he put on EN- perhaps you can reference his Disquis? and there's another too, with respect to the Popper argument.

            The excluded middle, thus merely reasserts these possibilities for avoiding 'contradiction' - as either/or or both/and, or both x and y and etc. etc. within the third category of 'reciprocity'. The first is limiting, and thus possibly deals primarily with the logical 'hypothetical'..? or the 'structural' metaphysical aspects of 'cause and effect'.
            The second, according to Hegel 'suggests' the opening to infinite possibilities... How would this 'operate?' within a contrast between a hypothetical and the categorical distinction in the case of an argument! about what is good and what is evil? or even whether or not we live in a simulacrum? (the latter said with, please 'excuse' again some irony?) Can we not choose our own categories? even as possibly the elimination of the categorical (Kant's categorical as an either/or imperative. Possibly this would be consistent with Kant's criteria: the universality and the necessity he speaks of as merely regulative). Alternatively could there be the possibility of a 'real' inclusion of all possibilities pertaining to any subject matter, within a given assumed logic that involves a both/and context. Would such an inclusion apply even to the 'realities' of contradiction, including what can be/is thought of as a 'choice' between good and evil, - precisely as put forth within a 'theoretical context'. (This is a difficult question. I've referenced the big transgendered debate within this context in another comment. Perhaps these are indeed all 'dogmas' and unscientific, as they do not set forth the empirical 'test-cases'? but are made on the basis of a categorical relation- i.e. identity rather than on an empirical reference which meets existing scientific standards.)

            Still, Is such thought regarding the 'treatment' of contradiction a possible reality, rather than a mere theoretical ideality? What 'really' separates good and evil? Merely out 'thoughts'? Does not Genesis say that "He" pronounced his creation good, and do we not also have 'good' Friday- another acceptance of evil? by God? Surely however, these musings are not infallible!!! and so they come with merely the personal 'belief' - (for good or bad) that surely you do not interpret anything I say as any attempt to put forth a 'dogma'! :)

            Definition of dogma....Knowledge that relies on 'words' alone. So this 'rant' has been merely an attempt at further 'guess work- so sorry I can't give you any 'evidence' ...for when it concerns 'the good'.. 'l know not' what you might/would find acceptable????...which however, suggests there could be some truth in the possibility that the fruit of Eden, is indeed an epistemological choice, and even the possibility that this 'simulacra' which we can think we live within is 'really' not an... ontological???? - 'reality'... :)) Don't you just 'love' the crazy circularity in this 'argument'-not! You will I'm sure make better choices when it comes to responding to my comments in the future!!! Take care, Doug. Now at least you understand 'why' I attempt to 'avoid' argument!!!!

          • Well, another attempt to put a quote within a context. You see, I really am a Kantian deontologist, and therefore feel I have a 'duty' to live up to such 'obligations' - implied or stated explicitly. I took this link from my file folder, not from Sample's comment, who I believe indicated that perhaps he too found this article challenging. Edit: I do note that the realist position does pose the 'need' to limit somewhat! the both/and criteria of selectivity with respect to any 'guesswork' - if you will allow me this satiric? treatment of scientific terminology!!! (I just have never been able to overcome this propensity to be a stand-up/sit-down comic.) Thanks for your response.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3104413/

          • So you are saying moral like indigestion than a perception of deeper truth. One can say that. It is what I meant by claiming right and wrong are just illusions. Not that you don't have a feeling in your gut but that it is not nearly as pure and profound as many think. That is what I said seems implausible to me.

          • Doug Shaver

            I am making no claims to either purity or profundity. That's what religions do.

          • Yet when something seems to point to a deeper reality and you pour cold water on that idea then you are making some sort of claim. I tend to be sceptical of those claims just as much as I am sceptical of religious claims.

          • Doug Shaver

            I didn't say I was making no sort of claim. I just denied making either of two particular sorts of claim.

        • Good will? perhaps. The variations of different kinds of 'love'? perhaps. But being positive about the future, and avoiding all negativity? perhaps. If you don't believe it, will it happen? Of if you believe it will happen, do you still think it will without the possibility that it won't - or is this crazy, or - yes, truly!! this is surely not some sort of 'falsity' -- now that is living in a simulacra...perhaps, of one's own making? perhaps?

    • The diff is that on theism you must believe in something supernatural where as on the matrix you can be a naturalist.

      It makes more sense to beleive I the matrix than theism, but I say neither are the best explanation.

      • It's all a result of mind-body 'dualism'!!! :) (And I understand the Buddhists of some schools, have decided too that the infinity of all those eons is not where to go...and that nirvana is to be found here amid all this simulacra they call samsara...or the other term they sometimes use: in the 'real' world of the simulacra, it is 'the conventional truth' that substitutes for the 'absolute' 'truth'.. which perhaps, however, is and always 'will be' but an 'ideality'.....so what's wrong with accepting the simulacra/samsara of this 'real world' as a 'basis':....Is it perhaps better than having one's 'head in the clouds'...!!!!.

  • Craig Roberts

    Let's take a little test to see if you're living in the "matrix":

    A: Do you believe that malignant forces rule the world?

    B: Do you believe that mankind is suffering under the illusion that things are fine just the way they are?

    C: Does our world require a savior to defeat these evil powers?

    D: Will this hero deliver us from this bondage and grant us true freedom?

    If you answered YES to all four questions, congratulations...YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN!

    • A: no
      B: no
      C: no
      D: no

      But I point out that none of these questions get at any evidence for disputing a claim that we are living in the matrix.

  • Darren

    I can't escape the impression that Broussard has not actually read Descartes' Meditations. He seems unaware that Descartes spent the entire second half undoing (most of) his skepticism of the first half, what with God being too Good to allow him to be so deceived, more or less.

    To be blunt, it reads as though Broussard thought he knew what Descartes wrote, did some quote mining for the post, and ran with it.

    • So do you believe then in the legitimacy of circular reasoning. i.e. the Cartesian circle which is the relation of his ideas to the agency of God...The Euthyphro dilemna.....No problem surely. Don't we go from will to thought all the time. Could that not be the 'real' mental dualistic basis. not the mind body one. As Shakespeare said, something like what we think is good (or bad) is all in the mind, or something.....I have accepted circularity of thought....as 'inevitable' - one of the reasons why logic per se, will I believe, always be good if you want to put down another's argument, but it will never allow you to discover anything 'new'....or 'useful'....or .....I will stop here, lest I commit to an argument, I don't want to have to prove my case...(Edit:) I merely hope to continue being a 'beggar'...

      • Darren

        So do you believe then in the legitimacy of circular reasoning.

        Godel, Escher, Bach tells me that I must.

        • And a friend of mine, (my divorced husband, - as an exemplification of the circularity found in life) pointed out that if linear thinking (the straight and narrow) were combined with 'circular reasoning' - the creative placement of opposites, needed for 'creative thought' - we would then have the depiction of the celestial movement of the constellations. (the unending spirals??) I have never been afraid of running into in- coherence within my thought. (Something that 'in particular' the good/evil overlord has pointed out as a necessary reason to 'regulate' what comments he will accept) particularly when I'm testing where some 'thoughts' will take me--- my thought experiments of many kinds -- because I firmly believe in such adages as - one step back two forward, etc. etc.

          Thanks for relating this to Hofstadter, (correct spelling?) - I muse on the possibilities of 'self-reference' as well. (in contrast to the 'reflective consciousness'.) In an attempt to give an example, I would prefer to retreat into my own chaos and work things out within that imminently 'personal context' - than to display my reflections 'logically', within an argument. Not to start one, but am in the process at this time, of comparing a possible description of the character of logical thought, as mechanistic, or as something that is good to use to check up what is produced originally through, the more intuitive, and consequently personal approach to 'questions'....i.e.an alternative description of what would constitute meta?- physics....but what does this term 'really' refer to....could it but refer!! to what would be considered circular, 'personal' thoughts on this or any subject - which together with 'others' who are also 'pondering' - could result in clearer 'demarcations'? ..or even a new way to approach 'logic'????...

          But also, I have/am considering that the basis of thought is the structuring - as Kant advises, in that one first needs the 'schemata' - and the logic one 'finds' proceeds from that -- (although not all judgments (as in the case of morality, he suggests - can be placed under even 'nominal?' universals???) -(and yet the post-moderns are now speaking of post-structuralism- what do they 'mean'?? - do they merely want to leave -thought?- open to possibilities??? (edit: My take on this is that the term/word structuralism would be preferred to the term 'meta-physics', and that a methodological definition/distinction of the differences in these vocabularies would be helpful even within the contest/arguments between science and religion.) -have no 'fear'... for the moment these thoughts of mine will continue within the ever 'sound?-ing' silence of that divine madness of self-reference... !!!! That's poetry!!! (Edit: perhaps you can understand better than I such books as Schizophrenia and Capitalism by Deleuze, for instance.)

          P.S. I'm beginning to appreciate and perhaps even understand Heidegger, etc. etc. on these 'sub-jects'...I 'think'??? (As a possible example, perhaps this transgender bathroom controversy is an 'unconscious'? expression of an emphasis on placing thoughts on a continuum, as the basis of establishing an 'identity' - without perhaps a scientific methodology of relating thought processes to 'external only?' 'empirical data'....But this IS a controversy...(edit: a cautionary tale here? http://www.wnd.com/2016/05/whats-really-behind-americas-transgender-mania/ !!) again...on the controversial aspects of what could be entailed by this philosophical 'trend' - as well as even -??? an acknowledgement of these 'realities'? (So basically now I'm separating? realism from idealism on this 'pattern' as per Kant- except I 'don't like' the straight clear cut- dichotomy that often results.. So, I also ask...what else is possible? Are we 'ready' for this 'new thinking'????)
          Definition: circular 'reasoning' --- an inter-action between points of view- between will and intellect...etc. etc. what 'really' happens within the Euthyphro dialogue..???? etc. etc. etc...and is possibly happening now, within this 'con-verse-cation'???Edit: In other words, I would prefer an 'allowance' that would enable each 'person' to work out their own solutions, even to issues such as these, without this "I am right" - evangelization on either 'side' of the SN/EN 'argument(s)' . That for me, would be a true 'fire' within the individual 'spirit'...(to be congruent with even the 'idea' of Pentecost! the Vogt's are celebrating at this 'time' as the beginning of 'the church' given to the 'apostles'???!!! The pneuma, the fire, the breath could surely be within us all? appropriately expressed within a circularity of contradiction as a dove - of peace?) And yet another contradiction. Edit: As Heidegger said: we have to get to know 'how' we think. !! Of course the 'how' describes scientific methodology, but could it not also be interpreted within a more immediate, personal context? Can we learn to be 'scientific' about 'ourselves'? Perhaps that would involve a greater demand for 'awareness' than what was placed upon the Buddha.

        • No, it certainly does not.

  • I actually agree with this one. Well said.

  • VicqRuiz

    As has been said here a couple of times here before, it's quite possible that we live in a universe which has been created by God to be a perfect simulacrum of a universe in which He does not exist.

    At a stroke, this theory reconciles all the Thomist first causery with the characteristics of the universe as observed.

    • Darren

      Nice.

    • Don't worry about simulacrums. Kant gave us 'phenomena' that we could know, although the Noumea we could not. So we can trust the sensations of the first, but perhaps not the thought that is identified with the latter. And the Buddhists have their Maya, which they also (many of them) say - yes, it's the same idea as that given by Kant. So perhaps these are some kind of upgrades of the idea of the devil, - and if we find coherent regulative universals, perhaps we don't have to worry that much about an absolute deception.....although it is such a temptation to think we know it all, all the time, and that perhaps is the real difficulty in assuming the mantle of the devil's advocate.

  • Doug Shaver

    At the heart of the philosophy of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas is the idea that we come into contact with reality through the senses. But what if our senses are not a reliable source?

    Then Aristotle and Aquinas were mistaken. But I don't trust my senses because I trust Aristotle and Aquinas. I believe that they actually were mistaken about a great many things.

    This skepticism of sense knowledge was part of René Descartes’s methodic doubt, which many radical skeptics have adopted.

    Descartes's solution to radical skepticism was to prove (he thought) God's existence. That solution doesn't work for me because I consider his proof uncogent.

    • But I have just come to understand, Doug, that we can trust our senses. i will even take it so far as to state that we can even understand the 'truth' of such 'mind sensations' as for instance, the hallucinations people experience who are recovering from trauma, usuallly understood under the diagnosis of such mental illness classifications as schizophrenia, etc. etc. etc. Take for instance, the case of seeing that a stick in some water is 'crooked'. There is nothing 'wrong' with this sense experience. I would say rather that it is a problem of interpretation, wherein those who say there is a problem with the senses, are actually! conflating judgment with sensation, by confusing some preconceived notion, (or an idea) of what a stick 'should look like' - but forgetting that the empirical world is the world of change, or in logical terms of possibility, or in Catholic AT terms, potentiality. You only have to 'see' the stick within another context. Then if you are truly scientific you will see that it is not a problem with the senses, per se, but a challenge to the scientific experience to explain, (rather than contest or argue like an Aristotelian/Thomist) how a stick can be perceived differently within different situations. Like people appear differently at different times. Like the trees sometimes have leaves and sometimes their branches bear snow. etc. etc.
      Perhaps even the Copenhagen solution for the quantum puzzle could be solved in a similar way. There are after all many presentations of contradictions. Can something be both a wave and a particle. We - is it certain that these two 'appearances' are happening at the same time - or even to the same 'thing' without the possibility that 'things of this world' can change, and sometimes very rapidly. And what of the idea that I heard that as things move more rapidly, time slows down.....(is this interpretation of mine true - I'm just trying here). The point being that contradictions (like paradox) can themselves be put under many classifications, some concurrently, some consecutively. And if time is almost a static-(eternal) phenomena at this level of observation, what do you do with Leibniz's principle of identity of indiscernibles. Perhaps people (scientists) should read a bit of Leibniz, - after all he also had the theory of action at a distance, as well as what became the digital code of computers, in his theory of a 'universal' language. Didn't he!! Trust your sense. it is my thought that I now understand that the critique of that first protestant (edit - ah! Martin Luther- I always have senior moments) was directed towards the 'arguments of scholasticism' when he pinned his objection on the doors of the church - and said - faith (paradox) alone. After all, reason he shouted--- is a whore!!! (A paraphrase here, because I'm committed to the idea that the idea of good works can be a challenge to scientists as well as 'believers'!!!) ...So perhaps we can indeed have clear and distinct sensations, even though our ideas seem for many people to require a more abstract universal,rather than a mere regulative one. That religion vs. science differential again? .(But darn. I couldn't resist myself- the devil - I just found myself posting this, when it was so nice to have such an even number of 2400 comments on the Disquis!, which I hoped would settle my case for good. Oh, well, I'm onto 240l...now....I no longer have a clean record.) Take care.

  • Partinobodycular

    Consider the following scenario. In the not too distant future it becomes possible to create an artificial intelligence....a computerized AI. Now consider also that this AI can exist in one of two distinct environments. One being a robot with sensors providing it with information about an objective external world, and the other being a desktop computer with a simulated world.

    The question then becomes....if both environments are possible, how does the AI know which environment it's in? How does it know whether it's in a robot experiencing an objective world, or in a desktop experiencing a simulated one? How does the AI know?

    Would there be telltale signs of a simulation? For example, would the world be digitized? Would it be algorithmic? Would the physics describing the behavior of the micro world, differ from the physics describing the behavior of the macro world, just as a computer simulation can describe a world with physics that differ from those that govern the behavior of the computer itself? Do quantum physics, and classical physics point to the fact that we're living in a simulation? One set of laws governing the behavior of the computer, and the other set governing the behavior of the simulation?

    And just like the AI, how do you know if reality is "real" or a simulation? And if it could possibly be a simulation, then how do you know whether the only consciousness in it, is yours?

    The whole point of solipsism is this...how do you know?

    So before you dismiss solipsism, you have to answer the question.....how do I know?

    If you can't answer that question, then you're a solipsist.

    • I have at least a 'feeling' that I know, whenever my ideas are rejected as incoherent, a rant, or off topic. But this does not give me any critical understanding of who is the robot in any of these cases! (Hoping this is accepted as irony, because my solipsism does not extend to having the knowledge of computers and other integrated/interactive beings that your comments suggest are to be considered when answering this question...!!!)

  • one cannot doubt the senses without trusting them

    An important nuance was downplayed here: trust needn't be all-or-nothing. First we naively trust our senses. Then we learn ways in which our senses fail. After that, we have only provisional trust in our senses. That's why we learn to use consilience in our experiences to overcome even huge inaccuracies in what our senses report: we trust our senses to a degree, but not fully.

    • Why even trust them to a degree?

      "we learn to use consilience in our experiences to overcome even huge inaccuracies in what our senses report" we do? how?

      If your ruler is broken, or you don't know if your ruler is broken, you cannot use it alone to determine if it really is broken, no matter how many times it seems to give the same result.

      • We do learn, yes, by practice. For example, children often spin in circles till they get dizzy and fall down. But as they do it more, they adapt. Their motor control system learns how and when to ignore the senses that tell them they are still whirling about, and they regain the ability to stand and walk. They don't stand and walk as well while dizzy as while steady, but they can do it.

        For another example, young children believe that tall glasses contain more liquid than short fat glasses. They will maintain this even when you pour the water from one glass to the other in front of them. They have this intuition because the tall glass takes up more of their visual field. But as they gain experience with water, they overcome that visual signal. They learn that since it is the same water, they need to think about the volume of the glass and not only the visible surface.

        As for why we trust our senses even to a degree - I think you're not considering this in terms of actual human mental development. Infants and young children don't yet have the sophistication to imagine philosophical skepticism. We start out naively trusting our senses because that's the only place we can start.

        • Again, you miss the point. All of the learning describe is all input from senses, we have no way to tell if any of this input is real much less accurate.

          But you're rights we trust our senses (with many caveats), because it is intuitive. It isn't that we have no other option, but that the option of ignoring the senses unless we can be sure they can be trusted, is paralyzing.

          The point of the meditation is that intuition and practical necessity are not really the kind of thing that we expect to lead to truth. We trust the senses because Of these reasons not because we have confirmed they are accurate. This is a counter intuitive conclusion, but it is the case.

      • Logike

        This is exactly what solipsism claims in an analogous way, that in the absence of knowing whether the ruler is broken or not, I can't know whether the object I measure with that ruler is 4 feet. But this seems to be false: Suppose (1) the ruler is not broken, and (2) I don't know that the ruler is not broken. Surely, I still know that the object is 4 feet. Why? Because it appears that way. And appearances are generally reliable. In most cases of sensory awareness, I don't have to first prove that this ruler is reliable prior to being justified in believing that the object is 4 feet. Imagine if every contractor did just that! On the other hand, to establish the reliability of ruler itself, I would indeed have to test it according to the standard. However, in the absence of this test, the solipsistic/skeptic thesis doesn't at all follow that the ruler is therefore UNreliable, which is exactly what you claim. It is THIS belief that I am contesting.

        Knowing that I know X is not required to know X, contrary to what skeptics believe.

        • On the example you have given, your conclusion is correct, but it is not a reasonable conclusion. The ruler is accurate, but you have no way of knowing it is. Yes, you do have to be able to establish that your ruler is accurate before you can say it measures things correctly.

          This discussion is about epistemology, it isn't about ontology. Yes, it indeed may be the case that our senses are accurate, that the material world does exist. But belief in these would be coincidental, as in the case of the ruler, it is not a reasonable conclusion.

          • Logike

            "Yes, you do have to be able to establish that your ruler is accurate before you can say it measures things correctly."

            --I'm not talking about whether I know the ruler is accurate. I'm talking about, given that it is, whether I know the object that I measure with it is 4 feet. To say that the ruler is "accurate" means that it is already truth-tracking. Even if I don't know the ruler is accurate, I know the object is 4 feet. My getting the correct answer would not be "coincidental" or "accidental" because this reliable instrument is the cause of my belief that the object is 4 feet. Causal relations in the external world are one source of justification. You keep assuming this idea that I must know that I know X before I can know X. But I don't see any reason for supposing this alleged "epistemological principle" is true.

            "It is not a reasonable conclusion."

            --This claim of yours is precisely what I am challenging. Maybe we could stop begging what is "reasonable" here?

          • If I tell you that this object is four feet and you say how do I know and I say I measured it with a ruler and you ask how do you know the ruler is right and I say I have no idea, and I mean literally no idea, I am not trusting that it was manufactured according to standards etc, would you say I was reasonable in my assertion that I know it is four feet?

          • Logike

            Yes, it would be reasonable to assert that you know the object is four feet in the absence of knowing the ruler is accurate. Similarly, it is reasonable to say that I know that have two hands in the absence of proving that I am not on LSD.

          • "Yes, it would be reasonable to assert that you know the object is four feet in the absence of knowing the ruler is accurate"

            Why?

            "Similarly, it is reasonable to say that I know that have two hands in the absence of proving that I am not on LSD."

            Why?

            I agree that if you ignore the problem of solipsism you can do this. But if you don't, if you require some way of reasonably establishing that your senses are in some way at least generally accurate, then you cannot say anything about whether you really have two hands, or that you have two hands. What you can say is that it appears you have two hands, you can say, you have consistently observed two hands. This is reasonable.

            What is not reasonable is to assert we have some way of objecvtively that the cosmos really is what we observe.

          • Logike

            "I agree that if you ignore the problem of solipsism you can do this"

            --So you agree with me that, independent of solipsism, I know (or it is reasonable to believe) that I have two hands. Great, but then you go on to to say that I don't know that I have two hands, after all, because solipsism is true. But solipsism is just the view that I don't know that I have two hands. So you are reasoning in a circle, or just being redundant. You still have yet to convince us that solipsism is true.

            The upshot here is that your skeptical criterion of knowledge that generates your solipsism hasn't yet been established, much less argued for.

          • Not independent of the problem of solipsism, if you ignore the problem. I don't have any clue if solopsim is true. That is the point there is no way of not only knowing, but having any basis to trust the senses.

            As I've maintained all along, solopsism doesn't say you don't have 2 hands, it says there is no way of knowing one way or the other. It is just as much of a mistake to say you don't have 2 hands on solopsism as to say that you do.

            The whole point of my criticism is to challenge the assertion that there is a way to reason out of the problem of solopsism. There isn't we have to just ignore it.

          • Logike

            "The whole point of my criticism is to challenge the assertion that there is a way to reason out of the problem of solopsism."

            --But there IS a way to reason out of it. Again, your modus ponens is my modus tollens.

            You argue:

            (1) If we don't know that we are not in the Matrix, then we don't know that we have two hands.
            (2) We don't know that we are not in the matrix.
            (3)Therefore, we don't know that we have two hands.

            But I argue on the contrary that:

            (1) If we don't know that we are not in the Matrix, then we don't know that we have two hands.
            (2') We do know that we have two hands.
            (3') Therefore, we do know that we are not in the Matrix.

            This presents a stalemate. So the issue comes down to which premise (2) or (2') is more plausible. The only reason for thinking (2) is true is the under-determination of hypotheses by the evidence. But I've already given a counterexample to this generalization by showing that, even if we can't rule out one among two hypotheses based on the evidence, it is still possible to be justified in believing, and hence, know, that one of them is true. It does no good for you to keep repeating that our being in the dark about the truth-value of the matrix hypothesis warrants skepticism about the external world, because this is precisely the claim under dispute.

            I believe (2') is true and (2) is false because sensory impressions are stronger than the esoteric doctrines of skeptics--namely, that (2') is more plausible than (2).

            "I don't have any clue if solopsim is true."

            --Ok, so you don't know that you don't know that you have two hands. Then what on earth are you arguing in the first place?

            "[solipsism] says there is no way of knowing one way or the other."

            --Yes, that is what it says. But where is your argument for this claim? Would you be so kind as to articulate and number your premises for us?

          • Logike

            "Yes, it would be reasonable to assert that you know the object is four feet in the absence of knowing the ruler is accurate"
            Why?"

            --Because "seeming" appearances carry warrant. If they didn't carry warrant, then any contractor who did not first verify the accuracy of his ruler prior to using it would be out of a job. But this is absurd.

            "Similarly, it is reasonable to say that I know that have two hands in the absence of proving that I am not on LSD."
            Why?"

            --Ditto above.

          • "--Because "seeming" appearances carry warrant. If they didn't carry
            warrant, then any contractor who did not first verify the accuracy of
            his ruler prior to using it would be out of a job. But this is absurd."

            No it is not absurd, it is exceedingly reasonable. No contractor would use a ruler that he had no way of knowing was accurate, he would certainly make sure that he had purchased a brand that he could trust, and not only that he would check it after purchase to some other standard.

          • Logike

            "No it is not absurd, it is exceedingly reasonable."

            --So we should fire all those carpenters who don't use name-brand rulers because their measurements are untrustworthy? I sure don't think that is reasonable.

            "No contractor would use a ruler that he had no way of knowing was accurate."

            --This is just false. They do it all the time. They purchase measuring instruments from the store without first verifying their accuracy with standard measures.

            "he would certainly make sure that he had purchased a brand that he could trust"

            --Sure, a carpenter might have a preference for a more trustworthy brand. But I seriously doubt most purchases involve such discrimination. And it's certainly not the case that using a less trustworthy brand is flat out "unreasonable." "Not as careful" maybe?

            "not only that he would check it after purchase to some other standard."

            --So carpenters regularly fly to Paris and back to check their rulers against the standard meter there? Yeah, ok.

          • Will

            When building a house, a carpenter tests the accuracy of their tape measures every day. There are multiple carpenters involved, and any deviation between measures would result in noticeable problems getting things to fit together. Even if there were only one tape measure being used, problems would arise if it deviated from the measures used by door and window manufacturers, for example. A company that produced inaccurate tape measures would quickly go out of business ( a carpenter would never buy another one of that brand) and the supply house that sold it would have to hear serious complaints. All this results in an absurdly low probability that an inaccurate measure will ever be sold, but it doesn't make it impossible. Of course, we are talking about degrees of accuracy. Some cheaper tape measures (class II) are not as accurate as class I, but the greater accuracy isn't needed for normal carpentry work because of built in tolerances. Here is a relevant link on tape accuracy.

          • Logike

            "When building a house, a carpenter tests the accuracy of their tape measures every day."

            --I doubt it. But even if they did do this sometimes, you're missing the point. If we are to follow your logic to its conclusion, then carpenters should be testing their tape measures more than just "daily," but also prior to every single time they use them due to the possibility of unknown accidental damage to their instruments. But they don't do this. Also, what makes their memories reliable? For all they know, an evil demon is instilling false memories and making them *think* their tape measures are reliable when they really are not. According to the skeptic's reasoning, since no one can rule out this evil demon hypothesis, no one should be trusting the memories of carpenters, much less their own. But again, this is absurd. In point of fact, people rely on their memories all the time in the absence of first establishing their reliability, and people use tape measures all the time without first verifying their accuracy. So skepticism (solipsism)--the view that sets up as a condition of knowing that I must first know that I know in prior to knowing--is probably false.

          • Will

            I doubt it. But even if they did do this sometimes, you're missing the point.

            I explained how it's done, not intentionally, of course. Have you ever been involved in construction? I have. As I said, every time a tape is used to frame a door, it's accuracy is verified when the door (made by an independent measure at a factory) fits. Do you doubt that doors are installed in houses? Perhaps you are demonstrating an odder skepticism than I ;) I don't doubt that construction goes on, regardless of whether we are in a simulated universe, one sustained by God, or a brute fact universe.

            If we are to follow your logic to its conclusion, then carpenters should be testing their tape measures more than just "daily," but also prior to every single time they use them due to the possibility of unknown accidental damage to their instruments.

            Exactly what kind of damage could effect the accuracy of a tape measure? The only thing you can do is damage the markings to make them unreadable. I would have thought this completely obvious, and common sense.

            According to the skeptic's reasoning, since no one can rule out this evil demon hypothesis, no one should be trusting the memories of carpenters, much less their own.

            Quite wrong. You can't rule it out, but who cares? Even if you are being deceived by an evil demon, why not behave as you would anyway? Why would the deception change anything. We can carry on with life regardless of the underlying nature of the reality we perceive. Christian carpenters come to work just the same as skeptic ones.
            I would agree that solipsism is probably false, as is probably every world view that exists. What is probable is that we don't know. Balance skepticism generally leads to agnosticism with regard to many things, but we can accept that reality exists as a postulate without knowing it is true. What exactly is "knowing" anyway, just a feeling of certainty? The human brain seems hardwired to dislike uncertainty, but perhaps it isn't rational to try to force false certainty just because we dislike a feeling. One really doesn't need complete certainty to operate as if something is certain.

          • Logike

            "Quite wrong. You can't rule it out, but who cares? Even if you are being deceived by an evil demon, why not behave as you would anyway?"

            --That's precisely my point. We trust our senses, our instruments, our memories, independent of first ruling out the evil demon hypothesis. Skepticism is the view that I first have to rule out evil demons before I can be said to "know" anything about the external world, and that I don't know anything precisely because I can't rule this out. But this is false.

            And I agree, certainty is not required for knowledge. However, I disagree with you that we would know what the external world was like if it were a simulation. By definition, simulated worlds are not real worlds.

          • Will

            Skepticism

            2. Philosophy
            a. The ancient school of Pyrrho of Elis that stressed the uncertainty of our beliefs in order to oppose dogmatism.
            b. The doctrine that absolute knowledge is impossible, either in a particular domain or in general.
            c. A methodology based on an assumption of doubt with the aim of acquiring approximate or relative certainty.

            Since you admit you are not entirely certain we are not in a simulated universe (how could we be completely certain) we have nothing to debate. Your views are consistent with this definition of philosophical (methodological specifically) skepticism, as far as I can tell.
            I'm not sure that a simulated universe isn't real, it just isn't basement reality. If you play an online game, you are engaging in real experiences with real people. It's a real game world...it actually exists. A simulated universe would be the same, just much greater detail. World of Warcraft addicts can certainly get sucked into their universe.

            http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2014/11/the-worst-examples-of-world-of-warcraft-addiction/

          • Logike

            Yet I hold that skepticism is false.

            Then call it "basement reality." A "real game world" or "real matrix world"--though qualifying as "real"--are obviously not those kinds of worlds people take to be external to their minds. So these are distinct hypotheses, even if they are empirically indistinguishable. I'm not sure if you are trying to advance some kind of instance of Leibniz' Law or what, but it wouldn't actually apply because these worlds, by hypothesis, ARE distinguishable a priori because they would have distinct properties.

          • Will

            A "real game world" or "real matrix world"--though qualifying as "real"--are obviously not those kinds of worlds people take to be external to their minds.

            Are you proposing that Blizzard's servers and all of the information in them isn't external to the players minds? The world continues to exist when they all log off. The world is purely informational, of course, but information is the currency of mind. Blindsight is a neurological disorder where the eyes still see, but the conscious mind cannot extract information from the eyes, making the sufferer functionally blind though they still react to visual stimulation. An artificial reality just runs a different substrate.
            In general I don't see a need to like my views to any previous philosopher, these conversations should be creative, in my point of view. I'm not sure we are discussing the same level of skepticism, of course, do you have a precise definition of what you believe to be false. I agree that extreme skepticism (that there is no knowledge) is useless and pointless to believe in, even if it's true. At the very least, science/technology/economics/political theory shows that useful knowledge exists, even if it can be superseded by more useful knowledge (think relativity superseded Newtonian mechanics or heliocentrism superseding geocentrism).

          • Logike

            Causally, these worlds would be distinct. In a matrix (or game) world the word "trees" would refer to computer program features, or *trees*. In the world most people take to be the world they are acquainted with, the word "trees" would refer to trees. And *trees* are not trees. Therefore, the worlds are different.

            The skeptical claims I think are false are:

            (1) I do not know that I have two hands and (2) if two or more hypotheses are consistent with the same empirical data, then I don't know one of them is true.

          • Will

            if two or more hypotheses are consistent with the same empirical data, then I don't know one of them is true.

            Just fyi, most skeptics I'm familiar with will opt for the simpler hypothesis in this case (parsimony/occam's razor). The word "know" will be used depending on how it's defined, but I'd opt for believing one to be true, as opposed to "knowing". I suppose it doesn't matter as long as one is open to new evidence that would invalidate whichever hypothesis you believe.
            If you were suddenly disembodied and shown that you not only lack two hands, but are also minded only within the simulation, you would go from knowing you have to hands, to knowing you do not :)

          • Logike

            Knowledge is justified, true belief. What else? We don't require certainty as a condition of knowing things. It's enough that what we believe is true and that we have good reason to believe it is true. Even if I cannot distinguish between "real" and "fake" worlds, it is still perfectly possible to know that the world is real and that I have two hands because it appears to me so. Appearances carry their own prima facie warrant.

          • Recall this discussion of carpentry arose from the issue of whether one can trust a ruler in the absence of any way to know if it is calibrated. The ruler took the place of the senses, can you still trust the ruler of you have no way of knowing if it is calibrated? You are basically now saying that because someone buys a ruler or tape measure and does not test it according to international standards or whatever, but trusts it is accurate, this basically means it is reasonable to trust the ruler in the absence of such verification. But here is the point, in the anology, the buyer of the ruler does not lack evidence of its accuracy at the point of sale. Query why a carpenter would buy a ruler or any other such tool? A better example might be a square. Really this is just a right angle, why bother spending money on such a device? Because you are trusting that the manufacturer has done this calibrating, more than that there will be a range of brands that are more and more accurate and expensive. The purchaser has a number of lines of evidence to rely upon, he has the brand name, the reputation of the seller, and his own experience. As a hobby carpenter myself I can tell you that I am checking the calibration of such devices constantly. I check new tools against old ones I know are accurate, for example.

            All of this going to show that the anology doesn't assist your case. Consider the choice between a ruler by a well known brand with a reputation, vs one that a child made himself. Would it be reasonable to conclude that both are as accurate? Of course not and I've gone through the reasons.

            When we compare to analogy of the ruler to the senses, we realize we lack any of the mechanisms we have for the reliability of the ruler. We have no brand, no store with a reputation, no other senses we are confident are correct. We are more like considering the ruler made by a child, it could be that this child accurately used an accurate ruler to calibrate hers, or she may have done it by simple reckoning.

            Again, we have no way to confirm the reliability or accuracy of the senses at all. What we do is assume they are in some way accurate and then we can and do make all kinds of inferences.

          • Phil

            Again, we have no way to confirm the reliability or accuracy of the senses at all. What we do is assume they are in some way accurate and then we can and do make all kinds of inferences.

            I don't actually think we have to assume that the senses are generally accurate, as holding the alternative leads to all sorts of incoherency.

            Proposing that our senses are not reliable and/or don't get us in touch with an externally existing reality leads to complete skepticism. The belief of complete skepticism itself is incoherent. Therefore we reject the proposition that our sense are not generally reliable.

            --------------

            The syllogism:

            1) Assume: Our senses are not reliable and/or don't get us in touch with an externally existing reality.

            2) If our senses are not reliable or do not get us in touch with externally existing reality, then complete skepticism is true.

            3) Complete skepticism is not true (it can be shown to be an incoherent proposition).

            4) Contradiction, therefore we reject proposition (1).

          • Not sure what exactly you mean by "complete skepticism" but "If our senses are not reliable or do not get us in touch with externally existing reality" still allows one to be certain of one's own existence and one cannot doubt that, as Descartes has shown. Moreover, the logical absolutes may arguably be demonstrable, but as these are abstract I am not sure if this is in the same category.

            But that, as I understand it, is the solopsist position, one cannot question one's own existence, yet one can question every other empirical observation, indeed there is no way to prefer one or any other interpretation of what we call sensory input, be it completely real, false, or some mixture.

          • Phil

            Complete skepticism simply means the belief that one cannot know whether anything is true or whether it only appears to be true. In other words, one is left in a state of 0% certainty about any belief statement.

            And you are exactly correct about complete skepticism not being true. That is why there is, at bottom, an incoherency in holding the belief that our senses are not reliable and/or don't get us in touch with an externally existing reality. This belief leads to a conclusion that complete skepticism is true, but we just showed that complete skepticism is false. Reductio ad absurdum. (I believe this would be the same for the Matrix belief as well.)

            Solipsism, on the other hand, is harder to show to be incoherent, apart from lived examples such as holding that you've created an entity society people in your mind and populated the world and that you are speaking with yourself right now. Is that more rational to hold than the alternative...? Also, to hold that only other minds are a creation of one's own mind, rather than an entirely externally existing reality (which actually exists mind-indepednently) is a random belief that would need some sort of positive proof to actually hold as true.

          • "there is, at bottom, an incoherency in holding the belief
            that our senses are not reliable and/or don't get us in touch with an
            externally existing reality"

            You mistake the meditation or my position perhaps as advancing a belief one way or the other in the reliability of the senses, or the existence of an external reality, or the existence of other minds.

            Maybe solopsism is the wrong word. The position here is that we have no way of distinguishing whether the senses are reliable, or whether there is an external reality, whether we are a brain in a vat, from a situation in which to converse is the case. There is no way to make such a distinction other than recourse to what feels true or is intuitive. But then there is no reason to accept this feeling or intuition either, particularly as our intuitions and feelings are very very often wrong. The sun seems to circle the earth, the earth seems motionless and flat, solid matter seems mostly substance not space, time seems fixed, space seems independent of time, matter seems independent of energy, and I could go on and on.

          • Phil

            I would say we can actually show rationally that those things you throw out are not true (e.g., "no way of distinguishing whether the senses are reliable, or whether there is an external reality, whether we are a brain in a vat, from a situation in which to converse is the case.")

            What we do is we assume one of those positions to be true and then if we can show that assuming it to be true leads to absurdities/incoherencies, then we reject that position as being true ("reductio ad absurdum").

            I believe we can do this with each one of those positions (solipsism, subjectivism in regards to the senses, existence of external reality, brain in a vat, etc).

          • Actually we cannot. This is exactly what Descartes did in the meditation and it did not lead to any absurdities. Unless you think the matrix is absurd, but then, on what basis to you justify the absurdity? Why is thinking all of this is a simulation absurd? Because it is totally unjustified when we think of all of our experience in this world which does not in any way support us being in the matrix. But apart from that being circular reasoning (I can trust my senses that I am not in the matrix because my senses don't show me being in the matrix) it is also the case that the world we see is exactly what we would expect if it were the matrix, as would any other observed cosmos.

          • Phil

            Though I do think the best argument against solipsism comes from Bertrand Russel (if I remember correctly). It uses language.

            Language is only learned and come to be known through using it with other independently existing minds. If those minds don't exist then language is created purely inside ones own mind and there is no way to know whether what you are saying/thinking is coherent or not. (We come to know a language or thought to be coherent be testing using it in regards to an externally existing reality and having another mind confirm the language/thought.) If we have created the language, then we have no way to test whether solipsism itself is or isn't a figment of this incoherent language/thought.

            That is probably the best argument I've come across against solipsism.

          • Please explain how you can know the object is 4 feet if you don't know if the ruler is accurate.

          • Logike

            Just as you would know any object was 4 feet--because the ruler says so.

          • But I don't know that, this is the whole point.

          • Logike

            Know what? That the ruler is accurate or that the object is 4 feet? It's perfectly possible to know the object is 4 feet in the absence of knowing that the ruler is accurate.

            Not knowing the ruler is accurate does not entail not knowing the object is 4 feet. But for some reason this continues to escape you.

          • sure, but how? It is your scenario, you have said you have a ruler, you've confirmed the ruler is of no assistance. How are you getting to this knowledge of 4 feet?

          • Logike

            I never said the ruler was "of no assistance." I said I don't KNOW the ruler is accurate. That is not the same thing as saying it is NOT accurate. Huge difference.

            And I've already answered your question. If the ruler is accurate (even if I don't know that it is), and I measure an object with it, and the ruler indicates that it is 4 feet, then I am justified in believing the object is 4 feet. Your alternative is patently absurd: for any carpenter who has not first verified that his ruler is accurate, we should never trust that carpenter's judgments about measure. --Really? That doesn't seem right.

        • Ignatius Reilly

          Under this system wouldn't any true beliefs be knowledge, independent of justification?

          • Logike

            Isn't the justification just the *appearance* of the object being 4 feet? "It appears to me such and such, so it is."

          • This phrase originated I believe, with Plato. The justification would refer to the methodology, be it what evidence is considered relevant, or in the case say of mathematics, or even, if you will allow, any dogma or even ideology, as first principles, axioms, a theology and economic theory from Catholicism to Marxism, which demonstrates that the belief is not, as often in my case, mere opinion, but rather a 'substantiated' belief.
            Justification by faith. I am still thinking over. I am getting close to 'believing' that, following the acceptance of paradox by Kierkegaard, which I 'guess' would include this talk of simulacrum, as exemplified by the Knight of Faith, would demand a constant development of awareness, of the faculties of reason, including even imagination, and memory, as the basis of understanding. Within these distinctions, when an understanding would not be possible, when and if, for instance, there would/could be no possibility of a 'reality check' one would proceed still on the basis of faith. Such faith would rest not necessarily on understanding, which within Kant's philosophy, is that which can be measured or described by an a priori concept, but on, what I have hoped to clarify, constitutes the broader scope of 'reason'. Such 'reason' would therefore include an 'acceptance' of some 'inevitability' both of the possibility of 'error', (of many kinds) and that situations can indeed be based, as perhaps with the concept of the 'simulacrum' - on a 'paradox'.
            Consilience and Kant's apperception: Is there a relationship or similarity between the concepts?
            http://www.americanscientist.org/bookshelf/pub/e-o-wilsons-consilience-a-noble-unifying-vision-grandly-expressed

  • There's no known way to disprove solipsism because solipsism is compatible with any experience whatsoever. This includes the interior experiences of trying to use verbal reasoning about solipsism.

    But it's not actually a problem. Yes, we can't logically dispose of solipsism. That's nothing special. There are few theories we can logically dispose of. The "epicurean principle" tells us to keep all theories consistent with the facts (as opposed to singling out any one theory and ignoring the rest). If we follow that principle, then we keep solipsism as one possibility among many.

    The epicurean principle doesn't get us all the way back to common sense by itself. We next add in Occam's razor where we can, giving preference to theories with fewer, less-specific assumptions. Then we add Bayesianism where we can, giving yet more preference to theories whose predictions better match our sense data. These three do get us almost all the way back to common sense. The one difference from common sense is that we haven't gotten rid of solipsism and other bizarre theories; but we consider them unlikely enough that we don't waste effort worrying about them.

    • Do you mean that your experience is consistent with God developing and testing your moral character without anyone else ever actually having been threatened with harm, to see if you're the kind of person who ought to be allowed around other real people?

      • I can't declare that scenario to be logically disproven. So I keep it by the Epicurean principle. Also, if you are willing to continually tailor the theory to my experiences, then no evidence can be brought against it. So I don't dismiss it for Bayesian / inductive reasons. But Occam's razor versus that theory's tailored detail leaves me considering the scenario thoroughly implausible.

        What would you call the theory? Divine sandboxing?

        • Ockham's razor applies methodologically, not ontologically. You have zero guarantee that the complexity of reality-as-it-is, is more likely simple than complex. Instead, you merely know that the best way to grapple with a complex beast is generally to use models as simple as possible, only growing them bit-by-bit.

          "Divine sandboxing" sounds like a decent name; I'm terrible at coming up with them. Or I've externalized the part of myself that's good at coming up with names.

          • Ockham's razor applies methodologically, not ontologically

            A bit of both, actually. For example, consider these scenarios: (A) There's a plate on my table. (B) There's a ceramic plate on my table. In every possible world where B is true, A is true also. But there are also possible worlds where A is true but B is not: for example, if there were a plastic plate on my table.

            I specified using Occam's razor "where we can". One place where we can legitimately use it ontologically is to compare the plausibility of theories with nested assumptions, like A and B above.

            I carefully avoided mentioning "complexity" and "simplicity", not because I think they're useless, but because I think they're underconstrained. It's not obvious what types of complexity/simplicity would be ontologically legitimate across the board - if any! If we consider the subset of possible worlds which can in principle be perfectly simulated via algorithm, then Kolmogorov complexity is ontologically legit for those. If we consider the subset of possible worlds which are generated by probabilistic processes, then frequentist statistics on types of events in those worlds would give us a different ontologically legit meaning of complexity/simplicity.

            I agree that, methodologically, Occam's razor is often convenient enough to justify itself. We just have to keep in mind that, in these cases, the way we can use it is methodological rather than ontological.

            Regarding divine sandboxing, it's just solipsism+Christianity+(a specific purpose attributed to the Christian God's mind for the solipsism), so like the A+B example above, Occam's razor tells us it's even less plausible than solipsism-in-general.

          • A bit of both, actually. For example, consider these scenarios: (A) There's a plate on my table. (B) There's a ceramic plate on my table. In every possible world where B is true, A is true also. But there are also possible worlds where A is true but B is not: for example, if there were a plastic plate on my table.

            This only matters if all possible worlds are equally likely to be 'generated', but do you have any reason to think this is true?

          • What? Possible worlds semantics is a tool used in philosophy for analyzing modal logic. The only thing that "generates" possible worlds is modal logic, and they're only as real as our descriptions of them, so far as we know. You can't use a verbal argument to coerce reality to be a certain way.

            It's hard to interpret what you might have meant. Are you hinting at Parfit's idea of a Great Selector, which selects which possible worlds count as real worlds? And then noting that we have no knowledge about what principles the Great Selector uses, if any?

          • What I said does not militate against any and all possible world semantics. You have argued that since only some worlds that have X also have Y, it is more likely that there is X than X and Y. That "more likely"—an ontological statement—is not necessarily true. Indeed, you haven't shown any reason to think it is true.

            Ockham's ontological razor is utterly invalid. His methodological razor is a very good heuristic.

    • Logike

      "There's no known way to disprove solipsism because solipsism is compatible with any experience whatsoever."

      Actually, this inability to decide between "real" or "fake" is irrelevant to whether I know that I have two hands (for example). Take as an illustration an ordinary trial-by-jury case where a defendant is being charged for murder. Suppose there is plenty of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty, and that there is no evidence whatsoever that he was framed, or had a twin, etc. Now, it is certainly *possible* that the defendant was framed or had a twin, even though there is no evidence for these things. More importantly, these two alternative hypotheses are compatible with the evidence at hand. That is, we would have the exact same evidence if the defendant had a twin or if he were framed by the cops. Yet--and this is crucial--no reasonable person would say that the evidence were not enough to convict him because we hadn't yet ruled out these other possibilities, and that we, therefore, "didn't know" or had "no good reason" to believe the defendant was guilty. Of course we have good reasons for believing he is guilty: the defendant's knife at the scene of the crime, the DNA sample, and even a video recording catching him in the act are all "good reasons" to believe that he did it. It is possible that he was framed, and I may not be certain that he was not. But it doesn't seem that I have to disprove all these (mere) possibilities before I can reasonably draw a conclusion about his guilt. The requirement is much too stringent.

      Analogously, I have good reason to believe that I have two hands, because sensory impressions suggests that I do. It's certainly *possible* that I am in the Matrix, and the evidence would look exactly the same if I were. But in the absence of any reason for supposing that I am in the Matrix, it's not necessarily the case that I don't know that I have two hands.

      Solipsism unabashedly inserts as a condition of knowing that I first have to rule out the dreaming (matrix) hypothesis before I can know anything about the external world. But there is no reason to suppose this has to be the
      case.

      I think Descartes', and the skeptic's, unspoken error is to equivocate certainty with knowledge. But in most day by day cases we don't do this. It's enough that what we believe is true and that we have a good reason to believe it is true.

  • Kristin Owens

    Our perception being an illusion is not just philosophical it is being proven by science. Quantum Mechanics has shown that reality is not how we perceive it to be. In fact it is our consciousness that creates what we perceive to be real. It take a probability waves and turns it into something that we see, hear, touch, taste and most importantly feel. We do live in the Matrix but it seems for now that we ourselves are the creators of that matrix. Although it stands to reason that there was a grand creator that set up the rules for it.

    • Thanks. I too 'believe' in the Copenhagen theory. But if only out of curiosity, is there any one who could give an account of the alternative 'beliefs'. With respect to what you said. Wittgenstein was but one of many who has stated a similar perspective: in his case that the universe of any person can differ from another's on the basis of what they bring to their experience. Put this way, it's almost too much of a 'truism' though, yes? But it has been expressed in so many different ways. Jesus-the bible- seek and ye shall find, is one most appropriate to this 'sight'. Maybe you've seen such videos as the basket ball game where in paying attention to the 'ball' one does not see the gorilla walk across the court, etc. etc. And to relate this example to science generally, is not the theory an essential aspect in how the phenomena, 'reality', is interpreted? and even 'observed'? What we 'notice' in other people, is also most often a reflection of our own 'needs', - or 'projections' etc. etc. etc.

      But I would still like more information on the Quantum, cause I believe the relation of wave to particle is a little more complex than this description. And also...just because you think it doesn't mean you'll get it...and with respect to future 'ideals' - the best laid plans of mice and men gang oft aglay!.... Is it or is it not true - that our life is made after our own choosing?.....just to start something I'm sure I will regret!!!

    • Mikahel

      well put Kristin.

  • Darren/Randy and Kristin, (et. al.) Whether or 'not' you find this 'submission', (yes the scare quotes/mention use distinction may 'annoy' some, but having read the 'blurbs', I would submit that something like a little 'scare' is often appropriate. And also Geena Safire- if you read this, please know that I have indeed found Jewish roots to these terms, particularly that safire - or safir is a term 'meaning' - illumination- the goal of this account, and a development into a narrative that seeks to find such illumination.
    To begin, please look for such things, as possible references to the 'politics of the times' - (at 55: and 1:00 perhaps) (some might find scare quotes would have been relevant here!), as well as a 'true story' in which the relation of the words, koan and Cohen is made, even to that of 'the' Leonard, who Indeed I did meet during my youth.

    To indicate further relevance, I have mentioned within my Disquis file two comparative correlates. l. Within the AT writings of Taylor Marshall - the distinctions between fact and number/logic (as per even Bertrand Russell), as 'that', proceeding to what would be 'narrative' or what Taylor describes as 'towards' - God, and the final stage of the progression as -in-'God' or other correlatives such as perhaps, revelation, or 'being in the groove' and other colloquial terms. 2. As well within the current Posts of the Modernistic posts!! a similar trilogy is put forth as analysis, then narrative, and demarcation, which however, would suggest a combination of the latter two within the context of this video, which suggests a need for a further third category- that of the 'illumination'.

    So, I merely hope you will enjoy this, as a possible 'method' that might allow one who 'feels immersed within a solipsistic existence, or 'caught' within the consciousness of 'beliefs' having some kind of lack of any kind, even an intuition of having no free will, and thus with the prospect of 'believing' there is no way out of any 'simulacrum' a means to perhaps 'write' or 'tell' or indeed 'show' what constitutes one's personal experience. This perhaps could provide an/the answer or a means to ask the questions, the means to become more aware of the details, the pattern, and hopefully the 'publication'.... of your 'own' story.

    In any case, I am thoroughly enjoying the attempt to read mine, and to see that image within the mirror of my self-reflective, self-referential -Godel oriented consciousness, if only through the attempt to find the correlations--- and put the puzzle together, once again. I thus trust!! that you too will find this little talk, lecture, homily, (depending on your religion, spirituality, whatever-- from naturalism to theism, and all branches of knowledge in-between), not only interesting, but told with a sense of humor, and hopefully you too will also find this and that - an 'illuminating story'.....
    http://www.meaningfullife.com/mlc-tv/31041/

  • neil_pogi
  • infowolf1

    the sense of sight is not incorrect in showing the distant man small, because it is correctly showing you distance. you can learn to calculate approximate distances by size of objects you know the average size of.

  • Mikahel

    the senses are the "Matrix's architect".
    so in order to proof if you are in matrix or not, you have to use the sword against the senses. Sometime the senses are still sleeping when you are already awake, or they are unprepered for such a event, then you may see the code and understand who is the ruler of the reality/matrix.
    How can I explain the colour blue to a deaf (a deaf yes, not a blind)?
    I need to give him the eyesight (the non-matrix is inexplicable).