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Nonessence

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Nonessence

Postby Keesa » Fri Jan 02, 2004 2:28 am

Is there such a thing as something that is not?

Even if I imagine a thing that, physically, does not exist, and never has, does that thing not exist, even as an idea in my mind?

Just a thought! :)
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Postby Raya » Fri Jan 02, 2004 10:27 pm

Justice does not physically exist...
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Postby Keesa » Fri Jan 02, 2004 11:08 pm

I should have been more specific.

If I imagine a physical object, such as an imaginary creature, or if I imagine a physical object, such as a box, in a space where no box physically exists, does that object have some degree of existence just from the thought in my mind?
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Postby mingshey » Sat Jan 03, 2004 12:50 am

Virtually everything what we have in mind are virtual objects, whether from imagination, or from reconstruction from our sensical data.
We can have a feel of reallity when data from different kinds of sense gives us a match. To say, when we can touch what we see. Or see a fire and crackling sound of the firewood, we think those things are real. This intrinsic assumption of association from co-incidence(happening at the same time) is a basic scientific facility of our brain. But this intrinsic assumption also can be the source of superstitions; if you see an odd thing and a bad(or good) thing happens soon, you are likely to connect the two. -- thus "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc."

The virtual reality can look real when it gives at least two different kinds of sense data. Click the mouse(touch) and the menu pops open(vision) on your computer and you feel those menus are there and wait your click to open. Blah, blah. this story is already familiar from the movie, "Matrix". Imagine you have a box, and also imagine you 'touch' the box, then it can be a "real" box.

Well, but there's one more thing. Beware, when you talk about a box and nobody else can sense its existence, then it can be regarded an illusion. You become a psycho(or in the old times, a prophet, a seer). ;)
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Postby Keesa » Sat Jan 03, 2004 2:45 pm

I've never seen the Matrix, so I'm not completely following your train of thought. I think I got the important parts, though.

I'm wondering if merely thinking a thing gives it a kind of existence. You seem to be saying that nothing really exists except in ones thoughts.

Correct?
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Postby mingshey » Sat Jan 03, 2004 4:32 pm

Not exactly. If I say "nothing except in one's thought", it's going too far.
Though whar we perceive and what we reconstruct in our minds as the model of "reality" is confined in our mind, and sometimes illusions from our sensical error, imagination, and/or mental disorder can deceive us, we cannot totally deny the "real" world outside our mental models. We are not free from those sticky thought of "reality out there".

If everything's fake, then, like the hypothesis of "generic time creationism" which I started a few days ago, there remains too much things to be explained. Presuming real world is much simpler and by Occam's Razor, I choose the simpler model(a model with lesser agent). But you can choose the other way. Infinite series of deceptive virtual reality is another choice.
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Postby klewlis » Sat Jan 03, 2004 5:36 pm

If you're interested in this question, you need to see the Matrix.

Various philosophers in the past have examined all aspects of this question and have come up with wildly different results. Some say that everything is only in our heads, some that there may be external reality but we can only know it in our heads (through our senses, basically), and there is every shade of mixes and arguments.
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Postby mingshey » Mon Jan 05, 2004 3:57 am

Or "The 13th Floor". ;)
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Postby klewlis » Mon Jan 05, 2004 7:29 am

mingshey wrote:Or "The 13th Floor". ;)


lol. definitely. but i recommend seeing matrix prior to 13th floor... it seems a natural progression. ;)
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Postby Raya » Mon Jan 05, 2004 4:56 pm

For those of us who haven't seen it: what point does The 13th Floor make about this topic?
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Postby klewlis » Mon Jan 05, 2004 9:07 pm

Both the 13th floor and the Matrix question our perceptions of reality and existence. They take things that we take for granted as being real--such as the world around us--and play with them, so that we are left wondering whether the chair we're sitting on or the air we're breathing actually exist, or whether they are simply constructions of our minds. In both movies there is a disturbing crossover between the "real" and the "imagined" worlds, and 13th floor even takes it one step further than the Matrix... but I'd spoil the movie to go into that. ;) Anyway, they should both be required reading for this topic.

In that context, the answer to the original question is that something can indeed exist in your mind alone... and then it really exists, at least to you. So could something ever really not exist? Maybe, but if we can imagine it than it exists as an idea... so then it depends on whether your definition of existence includes ideas. :)
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Postby Keesa » Mon Jan 05, 2004 10:12 pm

klewlis wrote:
In that context, the answer to the original question is that something can indeed exist in your mind alone... and then it really exists, at least to you. So could something ever really not exist? Maybe, but if we can imagine it than it exists as an idea... so then it depends on whether your definition of existence includes ideas. :)


That was my point. Does existence include ideas? I think it does.
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Postby Emma_85 » Mon Jan 05, 2004 10:40 pm

I'd say that ideas really exist. They aren't supernatural ghost things, but are really there in your brain as electrical signals. The thought itself exists and the object your imagining exists as a thought.
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Postby klewlis » Mon Jan 05, 2004 11:07 pm

as usual, it all comes down to definitions. :)
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Postby Raya » Tue Jan 06, 2004 11:38 am

Perhaps the question ought to be: can something exist even if you cannot prove that it exists?

But what will suffice as proof?
We tend to limit ourselves scientific (i.e. physical) proof, since this is the only kind of proof which we can 'digest' with our human senses. The downside of this is that the only things which we will accept as proven are those which can be physically sensed - which may imply that anything that isn't physical doesn't exist!

Indeed, we even try to explain non-physical things as physical phenomena:
Emma_85 wrote:I'd say that ideas really exist. They [...] are really there in your brain as electrical signals.

How can such a thing be proven? Scientifically, it cannot be. While conducting any research concerning thoughts (or any other invisible experience which a person can undergo, e.g. emotion), the scientist has to take it on trust that the subject of the study really is thinking when he/she claims to be! How do you know that the person is telling the truth? (How do you know if the person can even correctly identify the sensation of thinking in him/herself?)

Alternatively, the scientist could conduct the study on him/herself... but then the test would not be reliable (as in, nobody else could repeat it under the exact same conditions), meaning that findings could not be generalised to people at large.

Even supposing that the person really is thinking, you still cannot determine the relationship between the thought and the brain activity. How do you know that the thought isn't some immaterial thing, and that the brain activity is a result of the thought?
An increase in temperature causes the mercury in the thermometer to rise, but the expansion of the mercury is a result of temperature - not temperature itself!
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Postby Keesa » Tue Jan 06, 2004 1:16 pm

For a couple of paragraphs there, you sounded like my favorite book on the subject! :D

And, Raya, thank you for a neat rephrasing of my (very) clumsy opening question.

I would say that I definitely believe that something can exist, regardless of whether or not you can prove it.
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Postby Zeus the Goddess » Thu Jan 08, 2004 8:29 pm

If donut can be eaten, it exists

if donut cannot be eaten, then it is not a donut
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Postby 1%homeless » Thu Jan 08, 2004 11:10 pm

If donut can be eaten, it exists

if donut cannot be eaten, then it is not a donut


Hahaha. I'm glad I'm not an earthworm because they poop and eat through their mouth and reality would be even more confusing...
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Postby Keesa » Fri Jan 09, 2004 12:12 am

1%homeless wrote: and reality would be even more confusing...


Not to an earthworm.
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Postby wally_2004 » Tue Jan 20, 2004 7:48 pm

If we actually were in a "Matrix," a well-designed one, at least, is there any way to test it? That is, is there any way for us to know for sure either way whether or not what we experience is "real." (But I suppose "real" would have to be defined first...) :?
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Postby Emma_85 » Tue Jan 20, 2004 9:43 pm

In ancient Greece, that is for Plato, what we see is not real, reality is some thing we can't grasp (the man stuck in the cave...).
In modern Philosophy what you see is real, everything else can't be proven to be real. That doesn't mean that if you can see some monster, that's not really there, the monster is real. But the thought of the monster is real, and all you can be sure of is that this thought exists, because you feel it is being thought (you can't say you're seeing it, because it's not quite sure what 'you' are). Uh... I can't explain philosophy I'm trying to understand myself very well :P ...
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Postby mingshey » Fri Jan 23, 2004 6:29 pm

The country I live in is a Matrix that has me. It lives on the tax that's automatically collected from my pays. In return it gives me the illusion of the environment that I live upon. The pavement, the market system through wich I buy the groceries, etc. blah blah... The illusion looks quite real. Er, what does "real" mean? I don't even notice the blind spot in my field of view. the focus is on the very small zone of the field and I have to move my eyes restlessly to see something clearly. Or, to believe so. I believe I see a perfect blackness when I close my eyes, when in reallity, or in a close observation I see a whole lot of blinking tiny speckles of many colors. Similarly, I believe I see a clear white surface of a copy paper when such specks dance crazily around. The world I believe to see is more perfect than I really observe.
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Postby copain » Fri Jan 23, 2004 9:09 pm

I think we see exactly a world we fit in. Our senses and our brain are constructing a world for us that is sufficient to survive in. For example this world is filled with electromagnetic waves, but with our eyes (and brain) we only are able to recognise the spectrum between 770 nm (red) and 390 nm (violet), and this we call light.
Radioactiv radiation on the other hand we can´t perceive at all (with our senses) because until the twentieth century it was not nessesary for us to know anything about it. So I belief the question what is real or how real is this world we living in we can´t answer really and truly. The senses and the brain we have to observe this world are unable to give us a superior view of it at all. And all the measuring instruments we are building and all the thoughts we have about this world where fixed on our senses and brain, and are not independet and objektive.
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Postby Emma_85 » Sat Jan 24, 2004 4:40 pm

What is real... the only things we can be sure that are real are not the objects around us we touch, but our sensations when we touch or see them. The sensations are real, but are the objects?
I'd say they certainly do exist as otherwise our existance would make no sense really. But they don't exist as we see them. The table I touch feels hard and smooth, but zoom in and you see the serface isn't smooth at all, and even further you see (well we don't see them, that's the problem) millions of molecules and atoms and electrons in movement. The hard table is made of lots of movement. But our sensation that the table is hard and smooth exists none the less.
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