Existence/Reality

Author: keithprosser ,

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  • keithprosser
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    Are 'X exists' and 'X is real' only different ways of saying the same thing or are they different?
    I'm leaning towards the former.
  • Fallaneze
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    We might say a virtual reality world, seen while wearing goggles or a helmet or whatever, "exists" but isn't real. If it both doesn't exist and isn't real, then how would we be seeing it?
  • keithprosser
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    --> @Fallaneze
    Hmm... I was thinking purely in terms of language...  I don't know how to answer your question!
  • Fallaneze
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    I would say there's a slight difference. If we were describing an optical illusion, the illusion "exists" but isn't real. We could always compare the definitions to see if there are any big differences 
  • TwoMan
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    --> @Fallaneze
    We might say a virtual reality world, seen while wearing goggles or a helmet or whatever, "exists" but isn't real. If it both doesn't exist and isn't real, then how would we be seeing it?
    We can say that the goggles, computer, programing and electricity are real. We can say that those things combined produce a real simulation.
  • Fallaneze
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    --> @TwoMan
    Or do goggles, computer programming, and electricty comprise the existence of something that isn't real? 
  • TwoMan
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    --> @Fallaneze
    Or do goggles, computer programming, and electricty comprise the existence of something that isn't real? 
    The way I see it, the simulation is real in the sense that the light emanating from the display is a real end result of those things working together. We perceive that light as a simulation. It is no different than a TV screen. The light being emitted from the display is real in and of itself even if the images are merely a perception.
  • keithprosser
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    --> @TwoMan
    Surely if you are looking at a tiger on a tv screen everthing is real/exists ... except the tiger.
    but
  • TwoMan
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    --> @keithprosser
    The tiger is just a perception created by the (real) light emitted from the TV interacting with our eyes and brains.

    The perception is real, in that it exists. The tiger is not.

    As to your original question - I think "exists" and "real" are the same thing.
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @Fallaneze
    How do we determine the difference between reality and a convincing and persistent illusion? If the virtual world was the only one you had ever known how would you know it was a virtual world?
  • keithprosser
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    --> @secularmerlin
    i think you're asking if/how we can tell if this world is real?

    I'd be tempted to sidestep the issue by defining 'reality' (etc) as applying to our world even if it does turn out to be a simulation. 

    If it is a simulation then we could talk about the 'supra-reality' in which our world is embedded, and if neccessary a supra-supra-reality above that, and so on.  That way most references to what is 'real' (and related words such as 'true' and exists) in the text books would still be valid.   The same applies to say, morality.  The 'supra morality' of a world in which we are embedded might be different from our morality but what has been said and written about morality would still apply more or less unmodified - with any luck!

  • secularmerlin
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    --> @keithprosser
    I don't think we can say that with any degree of certainty. We still need a standard upon which to base our judgements about reality and morality. The standard will almost certainly be subjective and arbitrary and that leaves us with nothing but our opinions to go on.
  • keithprosser
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    --> @secularmerlin
    I was looking at it from the angle that it is uncertain if our world is real or a simulation.    Given that uncertainty we can ask what are philosphers and scientists think they are doing,  Shouldn't they stop and estabish what reality is before building on such a weak foundation?

    Clearly not, I say.   Even if it turns out there is a supra-reality  above this reality what we learn about our reality has value - it might be'what matters' and how 'supra-reality' is doesn't matter at all.    So its worthwhile doing science and philosophy, and the discoveries of scince and philosophy won't lose value if this is a simulation.

    And of course, it probably isn't.

    ifyou want to wor on the 'simulation' problem then thats fine - its a legitmate area of philosophy.   But we don;t have to wait for certainty - we can 'keep calm and carry on.' confident we aren't wasting our time,
  • secularmerlin
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    --> @keithprosser
    Indeed even if the universe is illusory (not unnecessarily simulated but that is included under this umbrella term) we can still learn "facts" about how our "universe" works and interact with it reliably. The question is ultimately less important than we make it out to be. It is important however to accept human epistemology and it is impossible to prove a negative. There can never be any evidence for something that does not exist. I tend to accept reality provisionally and provided we accept reality we can also provisionally accept the findings of modern science until such time as we know more (and of course the human experience continues to evolve and as we come to understand our "universe" better).
  • Mopac
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    What is a simulation?


    "the imitative representation of the functioning of one system or process by means of the functioning of another"

    How do our senses work?

    It seems to me like our experience is simulated reality.
  • keithprosser
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    --> @secularmerlin
    Indeed even if the universe is illusory (not unnecessarily simulated but that is included under this umbrella term) we can still learn "facts" about how our "universe" works and interact with it reliably. The question is ultimately less important than we make it out to be. It is important however to accept human epistemology and it is impossible to prove a negative. There can never be any evidence for something that does not exist. I tend to accept reality provisionally and provided we accept reality we can also provisionally accept the findings of modern science until such time as we know more (and of course the human experience continues to evolve and as we come to understand our "universe" better).

    I think that is a sensible attitude.   What we learn about 'our reality' would retain its practical utility even in the unlikely event we discover we are all living in Sim City.  At least that is how I justify not spending more than 1% of mental effort on worrying about it! :)



  • drafterman
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    --> @keithprosser
    You really do struggle with words having multiple overlapping meanings, don't you?
  • keithprosser
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    --> @drafterman
    I think that philosophical chats can easily degenerate into word games.  I don't think you can do philosophy with a dictionary.  A hammer yes, but not a dictionary.
  • drafterman
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    --> @keithprosser
    It is not a "word game" to clearly define your terms and/or define the context they are to be used. In fact, it's the only way to have a meaningful philosophical discussion. As it is, there are multiple meanings and multiple contexts the terms "exist" and "real" can be used, to various effects.

    You seem to object to this.
  • mustardness
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    --> @keithprosser
    I don't think you can do philosophy with a dictionary. 

    This above makes no sense to me. Is reminiscent of a non-existent, alternative-facts philosophy

    There exists the Wholistic Cosmic Trinity and your 1st error is in not recognizing the greatest whole.

    Cosmic Trinity:

    1} metaphysical-1, mind/intellect/concepts, ex ego as i/I or concepts of God, philosophy, Space, Time Universe Toyota's etc

    -----------line of demarcation-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    2} macro-infinite non-occupied SPACE,

    3} eternally existent and finite, occupied SPACE Universe aka Uni-V-erse.

    Start with the greatest whole and no parts or truths can be excluded. 

    Yes truth traps some people while it liberates others.

    1} Absolute truth, inviolate eveywhere  everywhen { eternal }

    2} Relative Truths, ---X exists and X is real----

    3} All Else --ex, alternative philosophy or alternative facts
  • keithprosser
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    --> @drafterman
    It is not a "word game" to clearly define your terms and/or define the context they are to be used.
    But suppose we want to discover the nature of truth, or of morality.  One cannot 'clearly define' what is unknown.  Or perhaps we dispute the nature of morality - whose definition do we use then?  And if we use two definitions of morality, are we talking about the same thing each time?

    'Morality' is a word in the English language, so dictionary compilers are obliged to put something in their books but working out what morality truly is the job of philosophers, not dictionary writers.  

    An alternative approach is provided by Wittgenstein who summed it up as "Meaning is use".  By attending to the ordinary language contexts that give words their meaning, we can avoid misusing them and trying to make them mean things that they aren’t made to mean.   That's the theory, anyway!
  • drafterman
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    --> @keithprosser
    But suppose we want to discover the nature of truth, or of morality.  One cannot 'clearly define' what is unknown.
    Yes you can. It then becomes a search to see if the thing you defined corresponds to the world as it is.

    Or perhaps we dispute the nature of morality - whose definition do we use then?
    You are presuming some objective, absolute nature of morality that exists independent of human thought and the challenge is simply finding out what it is. This notion is false; abandon it. The only "nature" of morality that exists are those defined by humans. When they come into conflict you use the same conflict resolution techniques you'd use to solve any dispute, such as people disagreeing on where to go for lunch.

    And if we use two definitions of morality, are we talking about the same thing each time?
    Obviously not.

    'Morality' is a word in the English language, so dictionary compilers are obliged to put something in their books but working out what morality truly is the job of philosophers, not dictionary writers.
    What do you mean "what morality truly is?" Words mean whatever we want them to mean. That's how language operates.

    An alternative approach is provided by Wittgenstein who summed it up as "Meaning is use".  By attending to the ordinary language contexts that give words their meaning, we can avoid misusing them and trying to make them mean things that they aren’t made to mean.   That's the theory, anyway!
    That's not an alternative, that's how language works. It's how it has only ever worked.
  • keithprosser
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    --> @drafterman
    As I understand it, the idea is to examine words in the context of ordinary discourse rather than imposing a definition from the outset.  Of course the discourse has to be intelligible and coherent - word salad is not 'discourse'.

    Wittgenstein argued that we do not learn the meaning of words as definitions; we pick up on the rules for using a word in discourse. Therefore philosphy is - or it should be? - concerned with a word's usage, not its dictionary definition.   But there are any number of interpretations of W's ideas out there and I don't claim to have presented the only or best one.  Indeed I'm not doing much more than flying kites to see what flies and what crashes.






  • drafterman
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    --> @keithprosser
    As I understand it, the idea is to examine words in the context of ordinary discourse rather than imposing a definition from the outset.  Of course the discourse has to be intelligible and coherent - word salad is not 'discourse'.
    Even in "ordinary discourse" words can have multiple meanings. If you're giving me directions over the phone and tell me to "turn right", that direction is meaningless unless you know which direction I'm heading down the street.

    Wittgenstein argued that we do not learn the meaning of words as definitions; we pick up on the rules for using a word in discourse. Therefore philosphy is - or it should be? - concerned with a word's usage, not its dictionary definition.
    That's what dictionary definitions are: a capturing of how words are used in discourse. Since words can be used in different ways, the dictionary captures them all. If you want to have a meaingful discourse all you have to do is specify which of those meanings you are referring to.

    I really really really don't get why this is such an objectionable thing to you. We could be talking about existence vs. reality RIGHT NOW, but you are so opposed to clarifying what you mean, or setting a context from which we can derive meaning, that we're off on this bizarre tangent.

    Would it not be simpler and more productive for you to just clarify what you mean?

  • MagicAintReal
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    --> @keithprosser
    That which exists has objective reality.