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Where is your Reality?

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Domh, Dec 16, 2002.

  1. Domh

    Domh Full Member

    Is the source of reality internal or external?

    Are we in reality or is reality in us?

    If a tree falls in the woods, and there is nobody around to hear it, does it make any noise?

    Modern theoretical physics is beginning to garner evidence showing that everything from sand to spoons to even electrical activity, including the kind that happens inside our brains to make them work, all consist of various arrangements of the same basic thing or possibly things. A google search on 'string theory' will garner some fascinating reading.

    If the only thing truly external to our existence is this stuff that makes everything, is the process that makes it into spoons or clothes or thoughts internal to the human mind or external and beyond human control?

    Is this stuff that makes everything actually internal to the mind as well?

    Whats your take on reality?
  2. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    Much of reality is external. There are natural laws that indicate that a sound is made, every time, even absent a witness. There are other laws, under other conditions, where event A occurs in the presence of a witness, but event B occurs, under identical circumstances, absent the presence of a witness.

    To me, this implies that some parts of reality are shaped by our perception of it. However, when we consider the human infant, created by the division of cells, born of a mother, ignorant to all but sound, light, and touch, how can we say that the reality of the infant is internal? There must be external absolutes, or near absolutes, under which influence our lives are shaped.

    These external influences tend to be, largely, physical ones, though, independent of our mind. There are vast sections of reality that are thoroughly internal to our own minds.

    For confirmation of this, one need only observe autistic children.
  3. Domh

    Domh Full Member

    Tell me more about these 'natural laws'.

    How can there be proof that event B has occured is there is no witness?

    If one places a tape recorder in the wilderness, presses record, goes many miles away, returns to retreive the tape and listens to it - that they hear the recorded sound of a tree falling is only proof that they are witnessing a tape recording of noise.

    Logically, it is only a supposition that the tree that was found fallen showing signs of having fallen during the time the recording was being made is the source of the sound on the tape.

    It is feasible that the sound heard on the tape is an internally created reality based upon a belief system, namely, that reality is external, and that it exists even without the participation of a witness. The experiment, however, is ultimately flawed because there is a alternate explanation of the phenomenon that obeys logical reasoning.

    Why must there be external absolutes? Is it not possible that these external absolutes are internal creations upon which we base our interpretation of unfamiliar sensory data?
  4. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    I say there are external absolutes because they are all the same. If all of reality is internally generated, then there must be approximately 6 billion different realities.

    If there exist 6 billion realities, there is little room for commonality. Yet, we all share many common experiences, perceptions, senses. Two people, asked to describe a spectacular sunset, will give nearly identical descriptions, independent of each other and unknowing of the other's description. Two othe people will do the same. And so on.

    If reality is internal, there should be as many different descriptions of that sunset as people who viewed it. There are not.

    As to the "tree in the forest" thought-exercise, I have always found it to be overly simplistic.

    I have no direct experience that the Earth spins on its axis. Yet, every morning, a sunrise occurs and every evening, a sunset occurs. Since I cannot see the Sun at night, using the "logic" of the tree scenario, should not the Earth be expected to do something other than spin on its axis?

    Clearly not. It does, the sun rises and sets, and there is an absolute common to all of us, whether we can see it or not.

    Now, the meanings that we attribute to sunrises and sunsets....those are internal, indeed!
  5. IamZed

    IamZed ...

    Good God! You see them too?

    I think we have X billion personal interpretations of a singular reality. No one shares yours.
  6. Coriolis

    Coriolis Bob's your uncle

    One could argue, however, that we are given only a finite number of ways to describe any one event and its components through our sensory apparatii: color, shape, texture, smell, etc. Each of these components has a finite set of "labels" established a-priori -- "the sun was a large red ball that disappeared below the flat horizon". What you and I are taught is a sun, or is red, may be internally represented completely different, but labelled similarily. Therefore, it is completely plausible that 6 billion different realities exist, but we are forced to describe them similarly.

    Further, these things we perceive are aggregates and not unities. If we hold that the only thing that truly exists is that which is a "unity" -- cannot be further divided -- then all matter, which is divisible into smaller and smaller components, can be argued not to actually exist. The denial of material existance does not hold for the mind, however. When we peer into the brain all we see are the neurons, the cells, the corpusles... we do not see, and cannot perceive the conscienceness there. The mind, or soul if you will, is the only unity that does exist because it is indivisible. Therefore, only the mind exists. And because only the mind exists, and the mind is internal -- unique and singular -- then reality must be internal.
  7. jamming

    jamming Banned

    I believe that there are certain commonalities, while not equal to unity but are approaching it. Do we impose ourselves on what is real, to a certain extent. I like the quote "Argue for your limitations and then they certainly are." Look at the physics involved in the researchers of early flight, they certainly had some common and uncommon views on the different realities about flight, but the flight priniciples worked the same regardless of their views. But those closest to having a scientific understanding of the actual principles were ultimately successful.

    Now our understanding of these principles are more complete today and we see where their successes and failures were looking back. However, by the laws of Aerodynamics to this day it is not possible for the bumblebee to fly, but yet does it ignore these fine scientific principles and fly anyway, or is it some other explaination? So either our knowledge is less than perfect understanding to the reality or there is some other yet undiscovered cause.

    What I am saying is that as in most cases arguments for the extremes fall short and the answer is probably in the middle of the extremes. However, I think that reality is probably closer to an external one, but our perception of it is internal going through the filters of millions of years of successful evolution. We are limited in our personal realities which falls short of the what the reality is but it doesn't make our reality less true. If the Universe is a true total infinity nothing could be considered impossible, but some things could be kept out of the equasions, based upon the near improbability of occurance.

    The only absolutes are the ones we impose upon ourselves.
  8. Techie2000

    Techie2000 The crowd would sing:

    If it is internal then a person could easily redefine their reality. Think something like the Matrix. However if the rules aren't external then it would be hard to provide a facility for which people can interact because everyone would essentially be in their own world.
  9. Coriolis

    Coriolis Bob's your uncle

    I think redefining reality, or defining our own reality, is part of the human experience. I think we do it all the time, and is part of what makes us unique. There's no doubt a strong link between the external and internal worlds, and one can certainly have a casual effect on the other. And just because there are perceived external commonalities does not make them real.

    Try this though experiment.

    A person has a serious accident that completely deafferents all sensory systems of the body. No sight, smell, touch, sound or taste. Only involuntary systems work (lungs, heart, etc.) and thought processes are uninhibited. In essense, a complete disconnect from the external world. Would not reality still exist for this person? I submit that it would, albeit devoid of any external influence.

    Another person has a serious accident that completely destroys the hypothalamus and frontal cortex (I'm no psychophysicist, but I believe these portions are where thought, at least biochemically, originate from) but leaves all sensory and involuntary function intact. The body is alive, but the mind is gone. Is there a reality for this person? I would submit there is not.

    Perhaps an imperfect thought experiment, for a couple reasons, but hopefully conveys the point I'm making.
  10. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    Just two comments, Coriolis: the first person is still subject to the external influences of the world. If the hospital burns down.......

    The second person's reality depends, I believe, on a differentiation between mind and spirit. The mind, dependent on the physical functioning of the brain, is certainly gone. If spirit exists, however, then perhaps an internal reality independent of external influences carries on.
  11. Coriolis

    Coriolis Bob's your uncle

    For the first point, with no pain or other tactile sensation, there'd be no perception of the external environment. And the external influence would only be relevant at the point where the brian ceases to function due to extreme heat and oxygen deprivation. This would also apply when the person reaches old age and simply dies of a heart attack, causing the brain to cease function due to lack of blood flow. At least up until the brain ceased to function, there would be internal reality. Then we're left with the spirit, or soul, and that's another argument altogether.

    Which brings us to your second point, regarding the differentiation of mind and spirit. This is very thought provoking. I'll need to think about this one for a while... :cool:
  12. Coriolis

    Coriolis Bob's your uncle

    Well, Steven, I've thought about it, and the only thing that comes to mind (no pun intended) is that the spirit and the mind are two separate yet linked "entities", for lack of a better word, and each exists in a fundamentally different layer of reality.

    If we say, as is commonly done, that the mind is the embodiment of the spirit, this means that the mind serves as the link between some fundamental phenomenological reality (which perhaps will only be revealed to us when we shake this mortal coil) and the internal reality of the individual, which is fed by the perception of the external world. The latter of which, according to my argument earlier, does not exist in a singular sense, but nonetheless serves some purpose to this higher reality.

    Therefore, the existance of the spirit, which must be perpetual and infinite, is largely unconcerned with the external world and knows only what the mind channels toward it.

    Thus, in the case of our two people, each with different forms of mind-body conditions, the spirit must continue to exist in its reality. In the first case, the spirit and mind remain linked but without the mind being fed through external perception. In the second case, the spirit must continue to exist, but it is dead, or in limbo, because the mind has ceased to function in its reality. However, this assumes that the spirit is somehow tied to the body through the working of the brain, beyond that of self conscienceness. Otherwise, the spirit of the second person would have left the individual, and gone to graze on greener pastures.

    Now that my head is sore, no doubt from my spirit punishing me for revealing its secrets ;), I bid you all a wonderful holiday season. I will be away for the next week or so, but look forward to continuing our interesting and thought provoking discussions when I return.

    Cheers! :beer:

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