Monday, November 17, 2008

IS THERE IN TRUTH NO BEAUTY?

"It is easier to perceive error than to find truth, for the former lies on the surface and is easily seen, while the latter lies in the depth, where few are willing to search for it."
-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived, and dishonest -- but the myth -- persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic."
-John F. Kennedy

"Science has promised us truth. It has never promised us either peace or happiness."
-Gustave Le Bon

IS THERE IN TRUTH NO BEAUTY?

(-Star Trek Original Series, season three episode title)


Today’s discussion is based on a simple question: What is Truth itself?

You have thirty seconds. No pressure.



Well, it certainly sounded simple, didn’t it?

This is indeed a complex issue, and so I hope you’ll forgive me if I ramble a bit. I will strive to not be too “disconnectedy.”

They say (whoever “they” are) that one man’s truth is another man’s folly. This seems to have a grain of “truth” in it, to me. The idea being that the Truth is a subjective thing. Or at least it is so in effect.

(Tangential conundrum, also derived from an old Star Trek episode: “This statement is absolutely true: everything I say is a lie…”)

(Don’t fry your brain over it)

At its most basic level, in the make-believe world of black-and-white, the truth is one of two choices, the other being falsity. Right and Wrong. Simple. Unfortunately the real world that we all live in is far from black-and-white.

In the world of mathematics, one plus one is always two. This then can be said to be a mathematical “truth.” However it is only so easily defined as such because mathematics is a “closed system” in that it is a ‘world’ that is in its entirety rigidly defined and explained by logical rules and axioms. It is implicit that the truths of mathematics are all within the contexts of mathematics. One cannot for instance, quantify love.

The real world is more complex by far than the mathematical one. One has to take the human variable into account along with a myriad of other factors. In many (if not most) situations, there is no black and white, there are only shades of gray to choose from.

How to choose? Therein seems to lie the difficulty.

The Truth can be defined as such only within the contexts of the question or statement involved. For instance, if I were to ask “Is your name John?” the context of the question is easily understood, as is the only true answer. Your name is either John, or it isn’t. If your name is not John, then it is not true that your name is John. And you can easily tell that your name is not John if it isn’t John. You would be in an excellent position to know what your own name is. In fact, you are the definitive authority on your own name. So if I were instead to make the statement, “Your name is definitely John” and your name is in reality Fred, then you can know that my statement is untrue. (But if you have amnesia...)

However if I were to state (for instance) that “I am certain that there is a God, and that He is Jesus Christ,” the definition of ‘Truth’ becomes more problematic.

If I am certain that it is true, then I can hardly be said to be lying as I maintain it to be true. But if it were to happen not to be true, then I am unknowingly telling, or at least repeating, a lie. And let’s face it; there either is or isn’t a God, and if there is one, then it either is or isn’t the Christian God. We may not be in a position to know yet, but these are the choices on the table, and all of them can’t be true. The possibility exists that there is no God whatsoever, and thus that all religions are wrong. If I cannot acknowledge this, then I cannot acknowledge reality itself.

If I try to investigate this question of God’s existence and even His divine identity using logic and science, agnosticism is the only rational result. Even complete atheism is assuming too much. There is just no way to tell, so there is just no way to tell, period. Anything more is, alas, wishful thinking. All indications may point to ‘no God or Gods,’ but in the end, there’s no real way to tell. So to claim such knowledge one way or the other is to be rather silly.

However the only real way to investigate the truth or falsity of anything, including the deity, is still by the application of logic and reason, and of course their avatar on earth, science. If these things fail, substituting faith is never a viable option. It may be an attractive option, but never a viable one.

The man of faith claims that he knows that his God is “true,” because of that very faith. In essence this is saying “I know it, because I know it.” This may sound fine to another believer, but to the unbiased it’s a complete absurdity.

One cannot claim the strength of one’s belief or faith as proof of that very belief or faith. This is a completely circular argument. It is less than senseless. It is ridiculous. If one believes something to be true, it’s still only a belief, and will not approach the strength of a truth until it is subjected to rigorous testing, and by that I mean logical testing and not religious. The believer certainly cannot point to scriptures as proof of their belief either, for the same reason. Scripture is a statement of faith, is designed to strengthen faith, and as such is hardly unbiased. The Bible is no more an unbiased view of Christianity than the Koran is of Islam. All religious texts are biased toward the religion that they represent, for what should be obvious reasons.

And I need unbiased, yes I do.

John Keats said in his “Ode on a Grecian Urn” that “Beauty is truth, truth beauty," - that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” And yet, the truth is often ugly, or so it seems. And the beautiful is often a lie. The Easter Bunny is “beautiful” in that it brings eggs to little children and has a cute nose. Alas, it’s a lie. Bot flies are the Truth, and they lay eggs in little children's noses. Not much beauty there.

Perhaps the Truth is in reality always beautiful, but is perceived as ugliness by those of us that are incapable of understanding it. (Some can see beauty in even bot flies…) Or perhaps it is simply that while all Beauty may be Truth, the set of all Truth additionally includes much that is not Beauty. Maybe old Keats was saying that we should just ignore the ugly truths and concentrate on the beautiful ones in order to be happy. Perhaps even that we should concentrate on some beautiful “truths,” in spite of the fact that they may only be true in our minds.

Unfortunately if this is so, I’m one of those annoying people that can’t ever be happy with a pretty lie when I just know that the ugly truth is out there somewhere.

I think that in many real-life situations there is no precise formula to apply so as to always arrive at the absolute truth. To my mind it is usually a process of considering all possible options, of thinking laterally as much as you can, and choosing the best, “most true” option.

When confronted with a deep question with no clear resolution, to me finding the “truth” is and must be finding the best available option that works optimally in the given context, in our consensual reality. Note that I say “our” reality, meaning the reality agreed upon by the maximum number of unbiased observers. Note that I say “unbiased” meaning not followers of any particular belief system, as this would skew results.

(To those that would say that logic, reason, and science are also a belief system, my reply is “Yes, they’re the only one that gets real-world results, which is why I chose them over yours in the first place.”)

Getting back to religion as an example, if I were to choose a particular faith instead of my agnosticism and claim it to be true to the world and to myself, then I would be invalidating all the other many faiths by my choice of that one. I’d be saying that not only is my God true, but that all the other Gods are false. Yet, I can find no justification for doing this that doesn’t also work in the opposite direction, if I for example happened to be a believer in one of the other faiths instead of the one that I chose. This therefore to me seems a very bigoted and inherently flawed method of finding the truth. It seems mere wishful thinking, when you really look at it. The simpler and I think more “true” choice for someone like me in this situation is by default to reject all religions as highly unlikely, since there is not one that stands out as any “truer” than any other one, and to look back to consensual reality again for my answers. After all, none of the world’s religions are “necessarily” true, and indeed none of them have any real-world evidence of being true, except to someone that is already a believer in one of them and is therefore willing to accept the word of other heavily-biased believers or the evidence of their own biased feelings as their “proof” in lieu of actual verifiable evidence.

So what is Truth? To me the Truth is a word whose meaning is particular to the situation and context, because it is an indicator of the “least false option of all available options” and not some metaphysical absolute. Telling the truth as you know it may still not be telling the Truth. There is more responsibility to it than that. One must educate one’s self adequately in the given contextual paradigm in order to select the truest option, and if you haven’t done that, ignorance is no excuse. And one must doubt in all things, especially in one’s self, for the truth to eventually be revealed to you.

You have to learn to see the truth before you can tell it.

And to some people, that’s the hardest thing in the world.

214 comments:

  1. Brian:
    Another great start to an in depth conversation! It seems to me that there may be two different kinds of "truth", which are not mutually exclusive. One of them might be referred to as absolute truth; i.e. a situation (admittedly rare) in which the issue at hand IS black or white, true or false. An example of this might be just that, light or absence of light, sound or absence of sound, etc.
    The other kind of "truth" is relative truth, much as you describe. This kind of truth, however, exists only when there is a person to ask the question, "Is this statement true or false." It is not only context dependent, but can only exist if there is a sentient being to think or enquire about it.
    Both of these kinds of "truth" can coexist: "If a tree falls in the forest, is there a sound if nobody is there to hear it?" The physicist knows that when a tree falls, vibrations are set up in the molecules of the surrounding atmosphere; these "sound waves" truly exist even if noone is there to experience them. So, the absulute truth is, "yes", but the subjective answer might be, "no, if nobody is there to experience the phenomenon."

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  2. Sorry Brian, I can't remove that bad link.

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  3. The real answer to the koan "If a tree falls in the forest and there is no-one there to hear it, does it make a sound?" is "No thank you, I am not hungry."

    No, seriously.

    The idea being that, if you seek answers to such questions, you are too wrapped up in the world of form.

    Just sayin, is all.

    Oh, by the way, the right answer to "What is the sound of one hand clapping" is to slap the questioner. For the same reason. And if you don't, and instead offer another response, the master's correct response to THAT is to slap YOU.

    (Incidentally, they're not REALLY the "right" answers. Just examples of some answers that have been considered "right" by certain Zen masters)

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  4. My two cents worth?

    I thought I could live my life with rigorous honesty. I thought I did.

    Not even close. I lied to myself....constantly.

    Now I must pick up my pieces and start again. I'll be a little less stringent this time....ALWAYS be truthful, unless a lie can get you out of trouble ;-)

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  5. Way to deep after the day I've had - I'm off to bed.

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  6. Pboy, I can honestly say that I love my wife more than I love my dog.

    But can either of us say which one of us loves our pets, or our wives for that matter, more?

    I can quantify hotness, sort-of. One to ten. A fun passtime in college. But to be honest I kept finding women lower than my previous "one" and higher than my previous "ten" so in reality it was hardly a precise scale, now was it?

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  7. One thing for sure, there is a lot of humor in truth!

    You're born, (skip, skip, skip), you die! No amount of 'hard-work' ethic, honor, justice, high ideals and such is going to prevent that final curtain.

    The truth is that we like deceit. Look at a woman.

    When she takes off her clothes she is not the same shape and is usually two to six inches shorter!

    Her perfume smells like that, not HER!

    Her lips aren't that color, her hair isn't that color, her eyes might not be that color.

    Her FACE might not look like what you see, what with shading and highlights.

    Her teeth, fake, her 'bat-cave' entrance hair, groomed.

    Seriously you could go to bed with a 5' 8" tall goddess and wake up to a 5' 2" troll who left her 'face' on your pillow!

    But honestly, I KNOW that my 'handsomeness' rating with these nature cheaters would skyrocket by me winning the lottery! Suddenly, all the ladies would be looking at me through a new 'lens', a million dollar lens!

    "You know what honey, I always dreamed that you and me... you and me and a million bucks that is, would go on a 'round the world cruise, some day!"

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  8. I'd say the real answer to the koan about whether a tree falling in forest is that it depends on whether you define "sound" as the stimuli that create the sensation of sound, or the sensation itself. It is a little more dull than it should be when it is clear that it is just a neat little semantics game. The other one is my favorite: the sound of one hand clapping. At that point, I just whack the fingers of my right hand simultaneously against the palm of the same hand repeatedly. Same sound as normal clapping, and it has more or less the same motion. I play the Zen game a little differently, I guess.

    Oh, and we certainly do enjoy our deceit. Beautiful falsehoods are much more palatable than ugly truths for most people. As for Keats, he defines away the ugliness by saying that only the truths that are beautiful are "truth". That is the duty of the optimist, the Romantic: to stand in awe of the superficial beauty of nature, and abandon the obsession with the morbid, the cruel, the depressing, that their intellectual kin so readily acknowledged.

    And...one last thing. We have yet to come up with a comprehensive neurological model for the experience of love, but, if we ever do, love could easily be quantified. At least, in its causal form. The actual experience, and the concept themselves cannot be quantified. The hormones involved, however, can (though doing so would be a real bitch).

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  9. You call love something that cannot be quantified, then you describe it as a gray area rather than black and white. Gray can be measured. Love can be measured in money spent on shiny things. Heck, Love can be measured in inches. You're probably the kind of guy who's open to interpreting love as a locus in a multidimensional spectrum of sensations (qualia), perhaps a fractal locus -- all geometrically measurable with the right perspective.

    Now beauty, I have a cold hard objective perspective of what it means, but give me a chance to read the other responses first.

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  10. I am a programmer, so it's in my nature to take everything interesting and break it down into soulless data, like conceptual materialism. Let's consider your hotness meter for chicks.
    Thine eyes collecteth her visage, thine mind (in its distinct esoteric fashion) decideth the parameters and criteria of appraisal, computeth, and exports a numeral in the appropriate scale of units.
    Everyone's mental function is different, and changes over time. There are also subconscious factors. For instance, our sense of sight is hardwired to detect edges and faces (the cause of infinite cases of pareidolia) (who knows how facial recognition works, maybe the brain does Fourier analysis). We like roundness and curves, because they give us an evolutionary disposition to protect babies and covet booblies. As tissue grows it can grow radially or laterally, giving babies a collection of simple smooth rounded features, and as we grow our phenotypes become more specialized, complex, and weird, but there is an adaptive emergent evolutionary disposition to appreciate our funny adult shapes.

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  11. If you want to play the game of comparing the brain to a computer, our memory is hard data, our thoughts are random access memory, but the actual quality of experience - I don't know, I guess it happens in the CPU registers. Could't tell you if a quantum of experience is a vector (like a qubit), or a binary 1/0 (good/bad, hope/fear). If the core of all life's experience boils down to the state of something as simple as a quantum state, then maybe every particle of everything is alive, and maybe your life isn't one life, but trillions of lives that all believe that they are in control of the whole, unaware that they're functioning together. A redefinition of "Life" itself.
    I just found this. It's similar in a way to my quantum life proposal. Also look up "Vijñāna" and "Āyatana". Buddhism is as technical and curious as Kabbalah.

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  12. Hey Brian we need your unique perspective on my last post when you get a sec.

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  13. "The real answer to the koan "If a tree falls in the forest and there is no-one there to hear it, does it make a sound?" is "No thank you, I am not hungry.""

    How about this?

    If there were no intelligent beings within the universe to experience it, would it exist?

    The correct answer is, "No, my penis is hard in the morning because I've been holding back a huge piss for the last four hours, now go back to sleep!"

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  14. You're probably the kind of guy who's open to interpreting love as a locus in a multidimensional spectrum of sensations (qualia), perhaps a fractal locus -- all geometrically measurable with the right perspective.
    -------------------------
    No, I'm still human. :-)

    Are you a Program or a User?

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  15. You thought I was serious, up till the last part, didn't ya?

    LOL

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  16. Nope, I knew that you weren't.

    I thought my "Tron" reference would be cool enough to get me on the boards...

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  17. Check out the pic of the baby flipping the bird. Funny video. (Not a rickroll!!!)

    Also the "friend in weed" pic is hilarious.

    I've thrown in a few other funny ones today... Up to over ninety now I think.

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  18. I like the part in Tron where the other program gets killed and just before he fizzes out of existence, he says,

    "Oh, my User...."

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  19. "I like the part in Tron where the other program gets killed and just before he fizzes out of existence, he says,

    'Oh, my User....'"

    Wow. I did not notice that. Tron has just become a little more awesome in my eyes. No small feat.

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  20. Oh, and breaking news: the brain-dead kid hooked up to life-sustaining machines (sweet, sweet machines) and whose parents refused to remove him from life support, is now heart-dead as well. I'm sure the doctors are relieved to finally get the space freed up.

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  21. Truth: Mass, space, math, logic

    I don't agree with Kant about the phenomena/neumena thing unless you take it to particles...

    Personal Truth: Oy vey.

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  22. The truth also reminds me of subjectivity that is mindboggling. I don't mean stupid, I mean wonderful. Time. I just want to know what it is; if it is. Surely it's conceptual. But I don't know, I'm a time agnostic. Admittedly though, our frame of reference for "it" is more experiential than God. Whether the spiritual exists or not, in concept it still seems to be very very conscious. Time, whatever it is, is very very saturating.

    Do you guys/gals (for tj) think time is extant? Or more ambiguously, is it true?

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  23. Slight divergence:

    Brian-based upon your description I culled my atrocious movie database and found this one - it seems to fit your description - enjoy ;)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=609StosN1V0

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  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  26. trying to post a link - with no success..

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  27. Slight divergence:

    Brian-based upon your description I culled my atrocious movie database and found this one - it seems to fit your description - enjoy ;)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=609StosN1V0

    -----------------------
    Wow! All I can say is, Wow!

    I mean, I had this ghost of a memory of this scene and was mostly joking when I described it, and you f&^%ing produced the clip!

    I can't believe it. It's a flashback to my early childhood. I'm pretty sure that I only saw the movie once, and I don't think I could have been more then four or five at the most and quite possibly younger.

    You NAILED IT.

    I am suitably impressed. Holy Shit.

    You have a free lifetime pass to this website. Even after we go public on the DOW.

    (IPO = IOU?)

    I'm still stunned here. I did obviously get your link and found the clip. Wow.

    This is like, EERIE.


    How silly it looks to me now, and how scary it was to me then. What a contrast.

    Thank you a lot, really. Too strange. Rest assured that I will have to add this in somewhere in my picture gallery in the near future.

    What a stupid costume! :-)

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  28. Glad to be of service!

    As an aside, My mom saw this movie with us kids and there was this sour neighbor of ours who was the spitting image of this monster (absent the leaves of course). My mother always referred to him as 'the Tuboonka' from then on.

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  29. Do you guys/gals (for tj) think time is extant? Or more ambiguously, is it true?
    --------------
    Let me get weird on you, oneblood...

    In my little fantasy spiritual world that just may be true, my "Big Brain" speculations as I like to call them, this question disappears as do all of the other Great Questions. I mean, if it's all like a dream within a giant field of consciousness, a Big Brain (with no body necessary,) (so more accurately a Big Consciousness,) then since it's all like a dream, and since a dream of necessity has a past, present, and future implicit within it as you are dreaming it, then time is as real as everything else is in our dream reality here, which is to say, not really that real at all. It's all a story that we're telling ourselves, so in the story time is real; in the story time must be real, since if it wasn't, we couldn't be telling a story to ourselves. (It would all happen at once, and be a superposition of events made indescernable one from the other.)

    Reality may be like "white light" and our consciousness like a "prism."

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  30. Do you guys/gals (for tj) think time is extant? Or more ambiguously, is it true?
    ---
    I'm not sure what you mean. If you're asking if I believe that the past exists as much as the present does, then I believe yes, and I think Special Relativity supports it, unless I'm interpreting it wrong.

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  31. Where does the past exist?

    Where does the future?

    Only the present moment exists.

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  32. There is some evidence that at least some of our dreams that seem to us to require significant time to dream actually occur in a very few seconds. In other words, there may be very little correlation between apparent elapsed time in the dream and real elapsed tiime while we are dreaming the sequence in question. Even so, there seems to be appropriate time going by within the dream. There is also some suggestion that when we have these very brief elapsed time dreams that we repeat them several times in quick succession. I don't know if this has any bearing on the question at hand.

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  33. "Where does the past exist?

    Where does the future?

    Only the present moment exists."

    In that respect, I would agree that time may not exist. I feel that time is more or less the way that we perceive change. When something shifts from one state or position to the next, our perception of the new, along with knowledge of the old, is seen as a continuum, from original known to currently perceived. And, of course, the "future" (which is entirely conceptual, a projection of changes to come based upon those already observed). Time itself is just a shorthand concept used to understand not only the chemical processes of our world, and acts as a framework to understand our own place in said world. Heck, without some concept of time, there would be no way to learn at all. It is almost a necessity to use it as a concept, regardless of whether it reflects upon a greater reality.

    Hmmm. I don't think any of that made any sense. [shrug].

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  34. Where does the past exist?
    Where does the future?
    Only the present moment exists.
    ---
    I thought you were above such flat restrictive thinking. To quote the Square from Edwin Abbot's Flatland "Upward, not Northward" would be the proper analogy for "where" the past exists.

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  35. My opinion is a biased one. If the past ceases to exist, then so ceases historical truth, and that I refuse to believe. For example, if there was an unsolved mystery with zero surviving evidence, not even God could know what happened. What if we introduce a God that witnesses everything and remembers everything? Well, that eidetic memory would be an example of extant history. You don't even have to interpret this example of God as a being, but rather a comprehensive database of all truth.

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  36. Are you suggesting that the past is another dimension that we cannot experience directly? But we did experience it directly when it was the present. I don't think so, in other words. But in the "BB" scenario, if you're looking for an explanation of what the past IS, you'll get one, even if the past ISN'T.

    If ye seek it, ye shall find it.

    It's not just for enligtenment anymore.

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  37. I still think the Second Law of Thermodynamics is the best anchor for the arrow of time. Since useful work cannot increase in a closed system and entrophy cannot decrease, time provides the frame of reference from one energy state to the next.

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  38. That's like saying that things change, so time is necessary to allow them to change. It's self-defining.

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  39. If there is a universe where time does not pass, nothing happens in it... So by definition all universes that exist must have time.

    Some say that all moments in time exist side-by-side simultaneously in a timeless universe, but our consciousness needed to order reality in a manner where our individual point of view seems to pass through time. In reality our attention, our consciousness, is passing from one event to another event consecutively, but the events are simultaneous in reality. So it is our consciousness that passes THROUGH time, and not time flowing around us.

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  40. maybe so - I should have been more clear - the Second law helps explain the directionality of and our perception of time. Of course special relativity disproved the notion of absolute time references since it is dependent upon the motion of the observer. I think Hawking referred to three notions of time - psychological, thermodynamic, and cosmological, ie linked to cosmic expansion. The concept of time is linked to this universe since there is no meaningful definition for time prior to the Big Bang.

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  41. Einsteinian spacetime requires time as a separate fourth dimension. Like everything else in theory of relativity, tho, time is relative. Remember the clock experiment where one atomic clock was kept at the naval observatory and the other (synchronized) atomic clock was carried aloft for about a month at 30,000 feet. The results of the experiment matched relativistic predictions to something like the 9th decimal place in that the einsteinian eq's said that time runs faster in the presence of a gravity field.
    This is also noted in the vicinity of black holes, where the so-called "event horizon" is a time potential surface upon which time stands still (this is not the usual definition, I know. The usual layman's definition for the event horizon says that this is the "point of no return" for things caught in the black hole's gravity well).

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  42. Oops, time runs SLOWER in the presence of gravity.

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  43. The 'time surface' concept of the black holes also helps explain why light doesn't escape, along with the fact that light is subject to gravity as well.

    The point is that this is why the interior of a black hole behind the event horizon is completely unknown, except by its observable effects OUTSIDE the black hole.

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  44. I'm an ex-physics major, in case anyone asks.

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  45. Look at it like this:
    If we agree to meet, we have to agree on where AND when (3 spatial dimensions, 1 time dimension). If we occupy the same spatial position at different TIMES, then the meeting fails.

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  46. All that really proves is that time is related to velocity, whether actual or gravitational.

    To the observer, whether they are still or moving, time always passes at the same rate. A shipboard clock (or an astronaut) on a spaceship accellerated to near c will still experience one second for every second that passes on the ship, even though when they get back they will find out that for every second that passed on the ship twenty (or whatever) passed on earth...

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  47. Conversely, of course no time passes for anything moving at the speed of light. So the photon that just travelled ten billion light years from the Hubble deep field, went down the barrel of a telescope, and hit your retina, only just that instant left the star that spawned it. All that space was traversed instantaneously, at least from the photon's point of view. It went from the hot plasma of a distant star's photosphere to your retina, in zero time.

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  48. I bet that's why they're so sparkly...

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  49. Now, it is also possible for two observers not moving in relation to each other to experience time at vastly different rates.

    As long as the two observers are different species.

    The mosquito beats its wings at more than 500 times a second. When you go to swat it, it sees your hand coming in sllllooooooowww motion. Plenty of time to finish up at the vein and take off before the swat arrives. Hummingbirds and elephant shrews also come to mind. And at the other end of the spectrum perhaps a sloth or an elephant.

    For all we know the average lifespan of say a dog, is lived by the dog as similar to the average life span of a man... So the doggy at fourteen will have 'felt' like it had lived seventy of our years. For all we know this is also true for the bacterium that lives for a day.

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  50. Did anybody happen to click on my fighting Jesus picture that says "He died for your sins- Now it's your turn!"?

    Talk about a TERRIBLE MOVIE! It's HORRIBLE!

    (I love it!)

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  51. Plus, I just put up a "Season's Greetings" picture as a "card" to all of you. It's at the very top.

    Happy holidays!

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  52. Hey, it let me delete that first post with that bad link to Leo Sayer.

    Tried to do it to that comment saying, "Can't remove the bad link!", and it won't let me.

    These blogs are possessed!

    My blog sent me an email and it tells me that my comment that I wrote on my blog might be dangerous!

    How rude! LOL

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  53. I have a question for you geniuses, well... pretty smart people.

    What are some of the fundamental components of existence as we know them? Not whether we agree with all assessments about them or that they exist in some other manner...

    I love elipses...

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  54. "What are some of the fundamental components of existence as we know them?"

    Atomic particles (?).

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  55. Except that when you really look at them, atomic and subatomic particles seem to be made of mostly empty space, and there's nothing "solid" to any of them. Essentially, we're all made up of nothing whatsoever...

    Another reason that I like my "BB" speculations...

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  56. "Essentially, we're all made up of nothing whatsoever..."

    Which lends credence to the "reality is an illusion" concept of existence, which is a whole different area of thought. Personally, I am happy with accepting that we are incredibly spaced bits of stuff, given a false veneer of solidity than dipping into that particular issue, however.

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  57. What "bits of stuff" though?

    Protons and electrons and neutrons have no real, solid existence whatsoever. There are no "bits" to speak of.

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  58. "no real, solid existence whatsoever."

    They exist enough to be observed (sort of) and measured (sort of) which is really all we can ask for.

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  59. Sure, but we can't really "observe" them, we can measure their effects as a particle, or as a wave, but not both, and when we seek to determine their position we forfeit the ability to measure their velocity and vector, and vice-versa... They're really, really slippery "particles."

    More like thoughts than particles. Little bits of consciousness that can interact with our consciousness.

    Face it, it's all just thought.

    :-)

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  60. Ooops. I just realized that measurement and consistent observations really aren't the best method of indicating that something is "real", since, if they were, we wouldn't even have to concern ourselves with things at the atomic scale, and could just simply say that reality as we observe it is "real", because it is measurable and observable, regardless of whether it is illusory or not.

    Skepticism is hard. I suddenly have more sympathy for the religious.

    [fetal position] I think therefore I am...I think therefore I am... [/fetal position]

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  61. Well, fellas,

    I don't have a physics background, but I have discovered how to affect the time continium.

    Microwaves !
    NO...I mean, microwave ovens. It seems every time I put something in one time slows down to a crawl. Conversely, when I am enjoying a sexual escapade, time speeds up demonstrably, hours seem to last mere seconds....

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  62. I think that we are born into this universe and come to know this 'level' of reality.

    There is the absolutely unthinkably enormous, things in our size range and the unthinkably tiny.

    What oneblood is asking is, "Why is the universe the way it is?", although he might not realise that he is asking that.

    Brian, your answer seems to be trying to 'orient' the unthinkably tiny to our size.

    Imagine solidity. Light bounces off electron clouds and into our eyes to be focused on our retinae. We can observe solid 'things'.

    Our fingers can pick up solid things, the electron clouds of our fingers 'touching' the electron clouds of the things.

    There is NO empty space because of the electromagnetic force, it is everywhere.

    To be clear, 'solidity' at our size has everything to do with electromagnetic force and nothing to do with our imagined 'notion' of solidity.

    Looking for 'clues' at the sub-atomic level and not 'finding' anything 'solid' is the same as saying that we can't see it.

    It's kind of like looking at air. You know it's there but our eyes are evolved to NOT SEE IT!

    Imagine if we could see air as if it were pea soup, our eyes would be useless!

    From the other direction, if protons(for example) WERE like little marbles our universe would be operating on a totally different principle than we know it is because half marbles are still solid as is the powder of crushed marbles.

    The notion of solidity only works at our size where the electromagnetic force (negative-negative and positive-positive repulsion)'creates' the solidity that we take for granted.

    Physicists noticing that a proton is 'almost nothing' and being in some kind of 'awe' about that is DAFT if you think about it.

    If protons weren't orders of magnitude smaller than hydrogen atoms then electrons would be bashing into them all the time and the universe would consist of neutrons!

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  63. I once heard of an experiment where the electromagnetic field of two "solid" objects were polarized, then the objects were intersectedto occupy the same space. Then the polarizing gadjet was turned off and the objects were "fused" together. I said when I heard this that it was probably an urban legend, but who knows?

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  64. Ed, I've heard of that... Billy Mays sells it as a new adhesive.






    (In reality, I am fairly sure that it's not true)

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  65. So Pboy, you admit that all our "solidity" is merely electromagnetic fields. Perhaps physicists aren't in awe over it, but maybe they should be. I think the average person with no knowledge of science would be in awe to discover this, no?

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  66. But Briiiaannnnnnnn.....

    I can't take YOUR word for it any more than I can accept Jeezus as my savior just because Observant says he's real...

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  67. I know, I'll consult Billy Mays...

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  68. Ah, yes, electro-magnetism, it'll glue stuff it'll bleach stuff, it'll stick stuff to the walls!

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  69. H'a's a'n'y'o'n'e e'l's'e noticed that I'm using way to many apostrophe's(D'oh!)!

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  70. Mighty Putty..

    You could make some jewelery for your woman!

    (Protection gear recommended but not strictly necessary!)

    Make a new bic pen 'shell' for signing the divorce papers!

    Awesome!

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  71. It seems to me that you slip and slide all throughout this post among distinct concepts -- truth, knowledge, certainty, probability -- while treating them as if they're the same thing (truth). I simply can't make much of it.

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  72. Brian,

    Who is 'The Author' and why is he such a fascist? Who does he think he is removing other people's posts?

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  73. Eric:

    Please do clarify the concept of Truth for me. I was hoping someone would. :-)

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  74. Truth is the subject in and of itself. Knowledge of something can be truth. Certainty, "certain" knowledge of something, is truth if you're correct in what you're "certain" of... and a high Probability, such as exists when you step off a cliff that you will fall, can and is also considered a truth in most cases. So what's the problem? My main point in the whole thing is that truth is not a metaphysical concept, and its definition is particular to whatever context it is embedded in. It changes, or it's definition does, depending on the context. In many cases it's just the "most true" or the "least false" of all available options.

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  75. LOL, oneblood!

    I wrote that comment and mad a bad link to that Leo Sayer song!

    I authored that comment and removed it, for your convenience.(so you couldn't 'link' to 'nowhere'.

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  76. Ed, you say, "I once heard of an experiment.."

    Yea, and I once read a book in which the lovers were slain, for they knew not the words of the Free State's refrain.. which said.."

    (This is a Bowie 'inside joke' and ONLY a Bowie 'inside joke' and completely not being 'sarcastic' to you ED!)

    As I understand it SPACE is, in terms of physics, the distance that 's' travels through time!

    The 's' pace, as it were.

    (I heard a great 'groaning' in the FORCE!)

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  77. "... and a high Probability, such as exists when you step off a cliff that you will fall, can and is also considered a truth in most cases."

    We already know how this will end!

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  78. Getting back to the "truth," one of the things that kept going through my mind as I wrote this post was Observant telling me that whatever he was talking about at the time was a "Biblical Truth" as if that ended all discussion about it.

    Remember, God didn't say that He wrote the Bible. The people that wrote the Bible said that God wrote the Bible. It's no more automatically true than any other book ever written by the hand of man. If you believe it to be absolute truth, you must at least realize that you have nothing concrete to base that on besides the strength of the very belief itself. It's all a circular argument. No escaping it.

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  79. "If you believe it to be absolute truth, you must at least realize that you have nothing concrete to base that on besides the strength of the very belief itself. It's all a circular argument. No escaping it."

    This was Augustine's problem too.

    I recommend that if you accept it, accept it's unprovability or the fact that it could be false.

    It's tough for me, because I'm not going to dissuade a little kid from believing in the tooth fairy.

    I believe, ironically enough, that belief and unbelief have crucial psychological elements that propel mankind forward. In a nod to Aristotle, only if they're used rationally.

    The relativity of truth or its absoluteness in math, is pretty beautiful. If you try and disprove or prove God/s spirits aliens leprechauns till the day you die, if you do it right, without emotional/verbal/physical degradation or violence, you will only have helped mankind.

    I'm going to check out your link npb.

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  80. How can one accept something completely while also accepting its unprovability? This is not rational. Or am I missing something?

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  81. Pretty cool. The minor progression left me wanting chocolate ice cream though. Good thing I had some. :-)

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  82. I mean, even if the person had a personal experience of God, a "vision" for example, they as a rational person must at least accept the possibility that it was an hallucination or some other illusory experience and not really what they thought it was, since these things demonstrably happen to people sometimes. So with nothing to prove it, how can a rational person ever completely accept it? Even Descartes had a "proof" of his "Cogito ergo sum" argument of sorts, since he knew that SOMETHING was thinking his thoughts in his head, so this something must exist, even if nothing else did.

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  83. I meant that it could be a fact that it's utterly false. I don't think it's irrational but it is difficult.

    But looking at it now, I think I mean I want to engender an understanding of human perspective in myself. So by default almost, that would include giving merit to the irrational.

    So applying the scientific method to what is inherently unprovable and acknowledging that it could be false would seem irrational except for its ability to achieve the desired goal (stated above).

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  84. But looking at it now, I think I mean I want to engender an understanding of human perspective in myself. So by default almost, that would include giving merit to the irrational.
    -Just because its a part of the human condition to give merit to the irrational doesn't make it the optimal behavior to be desired, does it? One should strive toward the ideal of complete rationality, no? At least complete rationality balanced by equally complete emotional-intuitive side. And by balanced by, I don't mean invalidated in any way by the emotional side.


    So applying the scientific method to what is inherently unprovable and acknowledging that it could be false would seem irrational except for its ability to achieve the desired goal (stated above).
    -How does it seem irrational to acknowledge that it could be false? That seems very rational to me. Perhaps I misunderstand. You are attempting to acheive the desired goal of not being completely rational because people aren't rational by nature? Maybe I'm on the wrong track.

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  85. "Please do clarify the concept of Truth for me. I was hoping someone would. :-)"

    I think it's much easier to say what truth isn't than it is to say what truth is, just as it's often easier to say what's not true than it is to say what is true.

    For example, truth can't be 'certainty' (understood as a psychological state), since we all know what it's like to be both certain and wrong. Also, truth can't be understood in terms of probability, because something can be very improbable (e.g., my existence, with respect to epistemic, not objective, probability) yet very much true. Finally, truth isn't the same as knowledge because the latter has, as one of its requirements, the criterion that what we believe is in fact true (in other words, you can't *know* something that's false -- e.g. that Bill Clinton was the first president of the U.S. -- though you can, of course, know *that* something is false -- e.g. that Bill Clinton was the first president of the U.S.).

    As far as what truth is, well, let's just say that there are a host of ideas about how to understand it. Some subscribe to coherence theories, others to correspondence theories, still others to pragmatic theories, and a few (though too many) to consensus/constructivist/subjectivist theories.

    Most of us, I think, are intuitively correspondence theorists (e.g. my belief that there's a computer in front of me is true if and only if there is, in fact, a computer in front of me); however, this opens up a large number of problems for those who are realist, materialists and empiricists (hence the development of the alternative theories).

    For example, if there exists a world of objects independent of my mind (realism); and if both these objects and myself -- including my mind -- are ultimately reducible to matter and energy (materialism); and if I come to know these independent objects ultimately through sense perception (empiricism), upon which we build our beliefs; and if my beliefs about these objects can be judged 'true' if and only if my beliefs accurately represent the objects themselves (correspondence theory); then it follows that knowledge is impossible, since I can never determine if my beliefs are true! Why? The correspondence theory requires a match between my beliefs and the world, but given materialism and empiricism, where I only know the world through my senses -- which are mind dependent -- and given realism, where the objects of the world exist independently of my mind, it follows that you're requiring the mind dependent (i.e. my senses) to deliver the mind independent (i.e. the objects of the world)! In other words, if the objects of the world exist independently of our minds (realism), and if our knowledge of them rests on mind dependent sense perceptions (empiricism), and if truth is attained when we match our beliefs with the objects (correspondence theory), then it follows that we can never get 'outside' our mind dependent senses to see if they 'really' match up with the mind independent reality we're studying. Note, no appeal to scientific testing will help here, because all such testing rests on the observations we make with our mind dependents senses! I want to emphasize this point, because it's the least understood one: every scientific test relies on our mind dependent senses, so no scientific test can 'get to' a mind independent world. (Note, this isn't some 'Christian apologetic' move, and it isn't an idiosyncratic view of mine -- it's the conclusion reached by the very secular, very science-minded, very brilliant 20th century philosopher and mathematician, Bertrand Russell. I add this not as an appeal to authority, but merely an attempt on my part to preempt the notion that the argument I've outlined has some necessarily 'science attacking' or 'god upholding' motive, or that someone very much acquainted with modern science couldn't possible accept it.)

    Now, I'm not saying that science is useless, or that we can't know anything, or any other such nonsense; rather, all I'm saying is that if you want to be a strong advocate of science, i.e. if you want to avoid the problems I've referred to, you can't subscribe to the modern world-view's package deal of materialism, realism, empiricism, and correspondence. (I know that at least you, Brian, do not subscribe the the modern worldview, given your advocacy of metaphysical idealism with your Big Brain contention.) And I suppose this ties into the main theme of your post -- truth -- and my first remarks in this post -- that it's easier to tell what truth isn't than what it is -- in this way: whatever the truth is, it isn't adequately explained by the modern worldview.

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  86. Thank you Eric.

    If it's that hard to define what truth is, I no longer feel so bad that I didn't do an adequate job of it.

    :-)

    Technically, all that you said rings *true.*

    And yet such technicalities can at times be used to obscure the *truth,* no? One must be on one's guard against such a thing as well.

    It seems that whatever else the truth may be, it is certainly elusive.

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  87. And by the way Eric, when I originally wrote this post I had you in mind. Not in a bad way, either. I truly did recognize that the subject was a difficult one, and I also felt, well, for the lack of a better word, "unqualified" to be the arbiter of such a profound question as that of what truth itself consists of. So I wrote what I wrote more to start the conversation and to see where it goes in the hopes of it becoming more clear to me in the analysis than in any attempt to be definitive on the subject from the get-go. In that, I knew that I could count on you. No insult. I mean that I wanted to hear your viewpoint on it in particular, as I knew that it would prove both interesting and informative. As it was. Thanks.

    Saves me the price of a costly degree in philosophy. :-)

    I do this blog thing as much to learn myself, as for any other purpose.

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  88. "I truly did recognize that the subject was a difficult one, and I also felt, well, for the lack of a better word, "unqualified" to be the arbiter of such a profound question as that of what truth itself consists of."

    Aren't we all! Even the greatest thinkers of the past and present have been confused about this fundamental issue, so it's no surprise that we are! But at least we have them to look to as guides. I remember reading a quote somewhere by Leo Strauss in which he said that after a lifetime of deep study of the greatest philosophers, he felt that while he was not much better at discerning 'the truth,' he was at least much better at immediately discerning nonsense!


    "So I wrote what I wrote more to start the conversation and to see where it goes in the hopes of it becoming more clear to me in the analysis than in any attempt to be definitive on the subject from the get-go."

    I agree that this is the best approach when discussing such a profound question.

    "Saves me the price of a costly degree in philosophy. :-)"

    I love to see the reaction people have when I tell them I'm spending all this time and money pursuing several degrees that will in the end provide me with a job that pays little more than the one I currently have, and that my chances of getting that low paying job are extremely, *EXTREMELY* small. They almost always follow up with, "Then why do it?" When I tell them that it's because I love philosophy, and that I'd rather fail at something I love than succeed at anything else, and that I'd rather teach philosopy for, say, $45,000 a year than do anything else for any amount of money, I usually get either a puzzled look, or a look that says, quite explixitly, "Man, you're an idiot!"

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  89. Oh, come on eric, you just don't want us to hold your self-transforming machine elves' feet to the fire!

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  90. "... not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

    Outside the Philosophy building, the Normativity Scene was.. well.. quite undescriptive really!

    They, quite naturally, split into two factions, the philosophobes versus the philosophiles, one group chanting, "Normative is not an adequate description!" while the other group chanted, "You can't describe something AS undescriptive!"

    Two stoned art majors(sergeants really) watched semi-disinterestedy at a safe distance, "Time for the annual donnybrook, I see." said one.

    "Didn't realize it was THAT close to Christmas.", yawned the other."

    ... and the mome wraths outgrabed.(as is their wont)"

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  91. What's with the new capitals in our blogger names all of a sudden? I was confused to see an "Eric" instead of an "eric" and saw that it was the same thing for everyone (even myself), with pboy and mac being notable exceptions. Or am I just going (more) crazy?

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  92. "...then it follows that we can never get 'outside' our mind dependent senses to see if they 'really' match up with the mind independent reality we're studying."

    If there were no mind independent reality, you wouldn't be able to make that statement.

    Here's why.

    When you read this and think, "Sure I would!", you are inadvertently admitting that independant reality exists for you to 'answer at'!

    The 'mind' is a process and we CAN examine it!

    Even if we imagine that it dribbles down to solipsism, then you are just saying that what YOU think of as 'independant reality' is all in your mind, right?

    But, it is still part of your mind that is different and examinable from the rest of your mind(your streaming conscious) and you are, in the end, only pushing this 'independent reality' back one step, incorporating it as 'part of your mind', only playing word games.

    Example.

    My cockatiel 'might be' all in my mind, but he is independant of my will, I cannot simply 'will' him away.

    He certainly is part of the process of my consciousness to me, but he is EITHER part of independent reality OR he is a part of my mind that simulates an independant reality.

    And they are not 'at odds', they're the same thing really for each of us independantly of each other.

    Other example.. If I mistype the 'word verification', I can only mistype it BECAUSE either there is an independant reality or an independant 'portion' of my mind.

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  93. Floyd, that wasn't an argument against realism; rather, it was an argument against the package deal of realism, materialism, empiricism and the correspondence theory. I thought I made that clear in my post. Heck, I'm a realist myself.

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  94. Descartes, version 2.0:

    I think, therefore I am. And I mistype, therefore reality is.

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  95. Sure you can. Your will, coupled with opening the cage and the window...

    It may have been all in your mind to go to the pet store and buy him in the first place. So it would also be all in your mind to let him fly away. Same result. The actions necessary to both aquire and to lose him might both be "all in your mind."

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  96. Do you guys/gals (for tj) think time is extant? Or more ambiguously, is it true?

    My answer:

    The past exists only in my memories, and those are fleeting. The future only in my dreams, and they wane as daylight breaks. The present is all I know, counted with the beats of my heart, with the breaths that I take. Time is the reality we can only escape with death.

    I cannot see into the future and the past holds nothing but warm memories and vague regrets. There is no traveling backward or forward through time or the space of a thought. For thoughts hold no form, and time is relative only to those who count it.

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  97. Eric, I don't think you are an idiot anymore than you think you are one.

    We all know that money isn't what is important in life, happiness is. And to do something that makes you happy or fulfills you, or keeps your synopses firing - well than it is worth doing for pennies as it is for pounds.

    If I had an ounce of conviction or any amount of courage I wouldn't be slogging away at a job I think others would be far more adapt at than I. The truth is, most of us fall into things because we are mildly capable, we do them because someone offers us money and change is hard and scary and usually hurts at some point or another.

    Do I regret my choices? No, they have brought me here. A place I couldn't withdraw from if I wanted.

    I admire anyone with the courage to embark on a journey of their own true wants, and none of their current or more pressing needs.

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  98. "...one of the things that kept going through my mind as I wrote this post was Observant telling me that whatever he was talking about at the time was a "Biblical Truth" as if that ended all discussion about it."

    Yeah. Take away Observant's book and he's got nuthin'.

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  99. Eric said,
    "...it's the conclusion reached by the very secular, very science-minded, very brilliant 20th century philosopher and mathematician, Bertrand Russell."

    Is that conclusion related to or identical to the notion that what I percieve as "blue" may subjectively look like something entirely different to you, but there's no way for us to compare perceptions, and we each see an object as "blue" because that's the way our brains were socialized when we were babies?

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  100. "Is that conclusion related to or identical to the notion that what I percieve as "blue" may subjectively look like something entirely different to you, but there's no way for us to compare perceptions, and we each see an object as "blue" because that's the way our brains were socialized when we were babies?"

    They're not *identical* as far as your specific question goes (thought they are, in a sense, related; more on that below). The question you're asking is a problem of perception generally, and would still be a legitimate question to raise if one were to, say, repudiate materialism and empiricism (parts of the package deal that I was referring to earlier, and which I concluded leads, logically, to a skeptical dead end). All we need for your question to be a legitimate question is a hermetically sealed space in which we each have our private, phenomenal experiences (qualia). As long as we don't have *direct* access to each other's *immediate* experiences, then it's possible (so the question supposes) that my experiences of, say, 'blue' may be entirely different from your experiences of 'blue.' Note that an appeal to science in general, or to similar stimuli (e.g. the wavelength of the light) and similar brain activity in particular, does not solve the problem, since the question precisely is whether the same physical phenomena produce the same mental experience in different people.

    However, the question is *related* to the conclusion I referred to insofar as the skepticism about perception (and, necessarily, given empiricism, conception) that the question suggests is precisely a token of the type of (insoluble) skepticism that would follow if one accepts the sort of package deal I was talking about (which included empiricism, materialism, realism and the correspondence theory).

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  101. The past is but history,
    the future a mystery.
    I guess what I'm trying to say,
    is all we have is now, today.

    That's my take on time & space.
    And, yes, I've used this rhyme in another place.

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  102. Brian,

    Rationality concedes to irrationality and vice versa. So rationality from a = irrationality from b. We should really call them "rational" and "irrational." We have logic and math, but after that and astounding amount of relativity. (to be cont'd)

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  103. *an astounding amount of relativity.

    Brian, do you know off hand, if math -to whatever degree- is present among communities of higher mammals?

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  104. Yea Eric,

    I'm not accusing you of being a solipsist or a skeptic, I'm saying that your argument slips that view in there.

    I did quote YOU saying that, ".. we can never get 'outside' our mind dependent senses..", right?

    I'm saying that your 'building on' realism then 'betraying' it with empiricism is wordplay.

    (ignore this if you don't believe it to be excrutiatingly accurate, but if you DO you are admitting to wordplay)

    I AM accusing you of wordplay and you reply that I just wasn't following your trail of words closely enough!(?)

    I'm trying to interrupt you reasoning at it's weakest point, saying that solipsm and skepticism by exploding that myth that we somehow would 'need' to 'get outside our minds'.

    There's NO getting out of that cheap trap, that, 'we can't get out of our minds' BUT looking at the trap from the perspective that reality is 'out there' or 'in here' in my mind(a simulated reality) is NO DIFFERENCE AT ALL!

    My cockatiel example, juxatposes a real reality with a simulated reality and Brian 'shrugs' and points out that to 'disappear' my bird I only need to 'shoo' him through my simulatedly-real window with my simulatedly-real hands.

    But you LOSE the 'argument' from skepticism or solipsism when you do this, because you are admitting that your notion that the universe might be a simulation in your mind is NO DIFFERENT than if it were not a simulation.

    I'm saying that one's mind is a streaming consciousness and together with the input from one's senses and memory, one does INDEED create a simulation(sometimes, by all accounts, a very BAD simulation) of one's "world".

    How would a philosopher envision 'reaching across that divide' between objects themselves(e.g.) and the input from our senses.

    Now, I don't give a crap 'how smart' those philosophers thought they were being, I'm calling 'bullshit!'

    You, it seems are saying, "Hey, I agree with you(about realism) but you can't ignore my reasoning!

    I'm saying that I DIDN'T ignore your reasoning at all. Your reasoning falls apart by the vagueness of the crucial point, 'we can't get out of our minds'.

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  105. hmm.. yes ... excrutitationgly... hmm

    (sitting in the corner with a pointy hat on)

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  106. "I'm trying to interrupt you reasoning at it's weakest point, saying that solipsm and skepticism by exploding that myth that we somehow would 'need' to 'get outside our minds'"

    Once again, hmm.

    I'm trying to say that ...

    I'm trying to interrupt your reasoning at it's weakest point, which is saying that solipsm and skepticism are valid points of view, and that I am TRYING to explode that myth that we somehow would 'need' to 'get outside our minds' to 'see' objects as they really are.

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  107. Simply put..

    As soon as one introduces the idea that reality might not be real, they LOSE.

    Here's why.

    "Are you real?"

    If yes, then reality is real OR a mental construct that is EXACTLY equivalent of a real reality, which sometimes conflicts with your mental construct of reality that is your mind(not 'often',if you're sane enough)

    NOTE:- EXACT EQUIVALENCE(not virtual(or virtually exact) equivalence)

    If true(no real real world) then the exact equivalent equals equals reality therefore false(no real real world)

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  108. "I'm trying to interrupt your reasoning at it's weakest point, **which is saying that solipsm and skepticism are valid points of view**, and that I am TRYING to explode that myth that we somehow would 'need' to 'get outside our minds' to 'see' objects as they really are."

    No, no, no! The very *point* of the argument is that solipsism and extreme skepticism are *not* 'valid' points of view; this is exactly *why* the argument works: it shows that the package deal I was referring to leads inevitably to an extreme variant of skepticism, or even to solipsism. And the need to 'get outside' your mind is entailed by realism, the correspondence theory and empiricism: if objects exist independently of the mind (realism) *and* if we can only know them in a mind dependent way (through the senses, upon which we build our concepts, i.e. empiricism), then it follows ineluctably that you're asking the mind dependent to deliver the mind independent. But then how can we ever know that the mind dependent deliverances of our senses 'match up with' (or accurately represent, etc.) a mind independent reality (the requirement of the correspondence theory)? You can't appeal to scientific testing, *since it to rests on the mind dependent senses*.

    Now, keep in mind that I'm saying that these undesirable conclusions follow *if* you accept the package deal of materialism, realism, empiricism and the correspondence theory. I'm not saying that we all must be skeptics, or that reality is unknowable; rather, I'm saying that *if* you accept the modern package deal, *then* skepticism (and perhaps solipsisism) is the inevitable, logically entailed consequence.

    I don't accept the package deal, so I'm not a skeptic.

    "I'm saying that one's mind is a streaming consciousness and together with the input from one's senses and memory, one does INDEED create a simulation(sometimes, by all accounts, a very BAD simulation) of one's "world"."

    If you're trying to defend the package deal with this, then you're not doing very well. You're simply begging the question here by assuming that our mind dependent faculties 'simulate' the mind independent reality. However, since this is precisely the issue, you can't assume it -- you must argue for it! However, given the nature of the argument I presented (i.e., the assumptions of the package deal, and the interdependent relationships that obtain among its various elements) it's hard to see what sort of argument you could provide!

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  109. Brian, do you know off hand, if math -to whatever degree- is present among communities of higher mammals?

    November 25, 2008 9:46 AM

    --------------------------
    I do not. I would *guess* that math, in a primitive sense as in knowing the difference between "one" and "many" is present in many higher mammals such as primates and cetaceans, and I believe it's been demonstrated in certain parrots. As far as any computational ability, not really, none that I know of. Oh,and can't horses be taught to count? Or is that always a scam? I wonder...

    I've heard that in some primitive extant *human* cultures there are only words for "one," "two," and "a bunch." Or so I've read. So not much mathematical ability there, and they're homo sapiens.

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  110. A sort of instinctual mathematical ability is present in some insects. For instance, a carrion beetle will lay eggs on a dead animal that it has buried, and if the animal corpse is too small to support the whole clutch of eggs, she will "trim" the clutch down to the right amount by destroying eggs or larvae. Also astounding memory capacity is easily demonstrable in parasitic hunting wasps, the female of which may have a dozen burrows each with a larvae in it, all different ages so all at different levels of development and different levels of food requirement, and the entrances to the holes are all sealed and perfectly camoflaged. This female wasp will return to each burrow, finding it again unerringly at the appropriate times to feed the developing larvae within, with the appropriate sized "kill" to feed it at it's current age.

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  111. A potter wasp will create a mud vase and then select stones for the lid. She goes out and finds stones whose shapes interlock to fit. She finds the right shapes, much like a skilled mason. So she must be able to keep the memory of a complex geometric shape in her mind for an extended period of time.

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  112. Oh, and the waggle dance of the honeybee. That's mathematical in nature. The dance is done on a vertical comb, but it represents the horizontal "world" so the direction "UP" on the comb is taken to mean "Toward the sun" by the other bees watching the dance. Thus if the line formed by the inside of the figure eight dance pattern points directly upwards, then the food source is to be found by flying directly toward the sun; if the line deviates from the vertical by say twenty degrees to the left, then the food can be found by flying twenty degrees to the left of the sun. Distance is indicated by the intensity of the waggle. So it's a map, and it's a dance.

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  113. If blue is in reality a range of light wavelengths, then while our perception of blue may be in our heads, the quantifiable light still exists. We can measure the wavelength fairly precisely, and say "that's blue." Now, we may all have our own concept of "blue" but that wavelength is a number that is verifiable and is the same for all observers.

    Of course, all this could still be in my mind.

    I made a conscious choice years ago that living as if I were the only consciousness in the universe would be boring. But I can never eliminate the possibility. Heck, it's more likely than the idea of an anthropomorphic God like Yaweh is. But not too likely, or so I "like" to think...

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  114. All:

    Even though I have not found God thus far in an essentially lifelong search, I still look forward to Thanksgiving!! Although this holiday was originally (and to a large degree still is) based in religion, it seems to me that it has become an affirmation of our good fortune to live and prosper in this wonderful country. My grandparents came here to escape Czarist Russia, and by so doing, managed to avoid the horrors of the Holocaust that wiped out every remaining relative that still lived in Europe during Hitler's time. Their family certainly has prospered, down to and including their great, great grandchildren. At a time like this, I am sometimes tempted to "thank" the God I grew up with, until I realize that there is no earthly reason that any God would have seen fit to bestow His blessings on my family, when so many others, many of them more deserving than I, seem to have escaped His notice. Perhaps this is the beginning of the "humility" that our Christian friends speak of that is necessary to find God and be saved. In any event, whether my family's good fortune is the result of luck, hard work, or the benevolence of a Deity, I want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving, however you celebrate it or whomever you choose to "thank".

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  115. "If blue is in reality a range of light wavelengths, then while our perception of blue may be in our heads, the quantifiable light still exists. We can measure the wavelength fairly precisely, and say "that's blue." Now, we may all have our own concept of "blue" but that wavelength is a number that is verifiable and is the same for all observers."

    This reminds me of Frank Jackson's 'New Knowledge Argument,' which is usually explicated with the help of the 'Mary the Colorblind Scientist' thought experiment:

    Mary isn't really colorblind, but she's confined to a room in which everything she sees is either black or white (assume that she's always been in the room, that she's never seen any colors, that there are no mirrors in the room, and that her body, hands, etc. are completely covered in white clothing). Now, while Mary is in the room, she's given *every* piece of information about colors -- not just the information we possess today, *but every possible piece of information*. Here's the question: If Mary leaves the room and sees the world in color for the first time, will she *learn* anything *new*? That is, will she learn what 'blue' *really* looks like, or will she already have known this (given the *complete* data she's had access to -- though remember, she's only had access to physical data; she's never actually seen any of the colors)?

    If she learns something new, and couldn't have known what her *experience* of 'seeing blue' would be like with the data alone, then physicalism is, it seems, defeated (since her 'new knowledge' is phenomenal -- experiential -- and could not, if she learned something new, be reduced to the data). The upshot is, if Mary learns something new, then all information isn't physical information, and that therefore physicalism (materialism) is false. (This obviously echos Nagel's famous supposition that even if we knew everything about bat sonar -- i.e. all the physical facts, not merely the physical facts we possess today -- we still wouldn't know 'what it's like' to be a bat.)

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  116. I said, "I'm saying that one's mind is a streaming consciousness and together with the input from one's senses and memory, one does INDEED create a simulation(sometimes, by all accounts, a very BAD simulation) of one's "world"."

    To which you replied, "If you're trying to defend the package deal with this.."

    Okay. This is not circular because here I am talking about the simulation that is by everyone's account, a part of your mind.

    You know how to get to your car because your mind contains a simulation of 'reality'.

    Let's assume, that solipsism is true. There is only you. The 'reality' seems to come from 'outside' you is phoney. It's all there, as an independant simulation of a more or less uncaring(of you) world.

    Now your stream of consciousness updating your memory (your 'mind')makes it's own completely different simulation(memory) to navigate the independant simulation.

    In this scenario, there is 'reality simulated' TWICE! One simulation can be 'forgotten', misremembered, etc. while the other ACTS like 'outside' cold, hard reality.

    Okay.. back to assuming that the world is real and 'outside' your head.(reality)

    Even if the world WERE all in your head, the part of your mind that is memory is making a simulation of that world!

    Confusing that, is exactly the same as you suddenly 'becoming a babe in the woods', not knowing that this question, "How can we know anything is real?", is a basic philosophical question(first chapters of books upon first chapters)..

    then you start PAST that, pass all that horseshit, go on to realism, materalism etc. ONLY TO SKIP back and accuse empiricism and correspondence theory of falling into that trap("..we can never get 'outside' our mind dependent senses to see if they 'really' match..")

    I'm saying, over and over that this is just a word-game.

    You are saying that given realism and materialism, that leads to empiricism and correspondence theory which FAILS because of skepticism which can validate(not saying that you DO*) solipsism, which is denying all your premises!

    *although this, ("..we can never get 'outside' our mind dependent senses to see if they 'really' match..") sure 'sounds' like you do!

    But, presumably, we have passed pure skepticism to get to realism and materialism. Therefore it is YOU who is begging the question here.

    You're just implying the first implied premise, that skepticism and therefore solipsism has been defeated then reneging on that implication later, restarting your own argument, chasing your tail, begging. the. damned. question.

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  117. "..we can never get 'outside' our mind dependent senses to see if they 'really' match.."

    Well, that's how minds work. We NEED to simulate the local reality to answer questions to ourselves, "Where's my car?"

    "Hey, that guy looks like my dad, is it my dad?"

    "Gee, this guy sounds like Eric, is it Eric?"

    This is one excellent reason to NOT imagine the universe as a BIG MIND, yes?

    BTW, I think that you are crazy to WANT to argue these points with students for your entire life, Eric.

    You are absolutely right when you say that truth is not easy, that non-truth is easier, way easier and that correlates to life, life is not easy, death will be much easier.

    It's the 'crossing-over' that'll be the 'bitch'.(go towards the 'light'(LOL)... my advice.. fuck the 'light', be a burden on society as long and as painfully(to everyone else, as you CAN! It's the American way!(LOL))

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  118. This is one excellent reason to NOT imagine the universe as a BIG MIND, yes?
    -------------
    Perhaps, but reasons like that in no way prove that it isn't a BIG MIND, they just are comforting.

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  119. A thought for Thanksgiving:

    If I believed that there was a deity who blessed me with all the bounty I've ever known, I'd also have to understand that the same god chooses to condemn others to a life of hell on earth.

    For as I am blessed, my earth sisters are currently suffering genital mutilation, forced prostitution, slavery, rape, disease, hunger and poverty unlike I have ever known.

    There is no god to offer up my blessings to just our suffering - for that must be all such a god wants - to allow such a travesty on the earth he created.

    But I realize knowing that there is no higher power - how truly blessed, fortunate, lucky I am to live in a country where I have so many choices. Where I am considered an equal to all - with a voice and a vote. Where I can choose my own mate. Where any crime against me is punishable by our laws - and seen as an outrage in our communities. Where I can work for a wage and own my own property and seek and expect medical services when I am sick. Yes, I am truly thankful for my life as I silently cry, knowing that there are still so many who will never have what we take for granted as our inalienable rights as humans.

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  120. "Yes, I am truly thankful for my life as I silently cry, knowing that there are still so many who will never have what we take for granted as our inalienable rights as humans."

    I'll drink to that.

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  121. "But, presumably, we have passed pure skepticism to get to realism and materialism. Therefore it is YOU who is begging the question here.
    You're just implying the first implied premise, that skepticism and therefore solipsism has been defeated then reneging on that implication later, restarting your own argument, chasing your tail, begging. the. damned. question."

    If what I quoted above were true, then every argument that takes a set of premises as given (for the sake of argument), and that proceeds to draw out conclusions that contradict the initial premises, is question begging.

    Do you see how ridiculous that is? You've confused a reductio ad absurdum with a petitio principii!

    I think you need to look at the argument a bit more carefully. Focus on the fact that the package deal *requires* the mind-dependent to deliver the mind-independent. *That's the key to it all*. Here are two uncontroversial claims: Our senses are mind-dependent; reality is mind-independent. Now, keep those essential facts in mind, and work through the argument again.

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  122. Eric, you say, "Here are two uncontroversial claims: Our senses are mind-dependent; reality is mind-independent. Now, keep those essential facts in mind, and work through the argument again."

    Our senses are mind dependant(you say). Our senses, sense reality. Therefore reality is mind dependant.

    Inasmuchas that's the way 'minds' work!

    Now each particular mind includes a simulation of reality subject to the vagaries of the mind, misremembering and such.

    This is true for everyone, whether one is a schizophrenic, a genius, a propagandist, a sociopath or an average 'Joe' who happens to be stubbornly wrong about a particular set of concepts yet smart enough to have 'moving goalposts' built into their argument.

    The plain fact is that empiricism and correspondance theory do not fall apart simply because you 'package' concepts in a particular way.
    ......................
    reality is mind-independent.(you say) But my reality is dependant on my mind as is your reality.

    Oh, are you talking about the reality that is 'outside' us all then?

    Well, Eric, then you are admitting that there IS a definite reality which is not part of your mind, isn't that right?

    When was it that philosphy lovers became such compartmentalized thinkers?

    Seems to me that you have to admit that there IS an 'outside' reality in order to deny it.

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  123. This reminds me of Frank Jackson's 'New Knowledge Argument,' which is usually explicated with the help of the 'Mary the Colorblind Scientist' thought experiment:
    ------------------------
    Interesting, but so what if Mary cannot know the color Blue even though she can know everything ABOUT the color blue? I didn't bring it up to prove that our subjective experiences were not reproduceable by the ingestion and contemplation of mere data; I brought it up because the hard data (the light frequency number of "blue" at least proves that something exists (light in the spectral range of blue) that is the SAME when it gets to (all of)our eyes, even though we MAY all see it differently.

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  124. Just the fact that other people also speak of solipsism and their inability to tell if reality is really "out there" or "in here" is no reason to abandon solipsism, you know. I might be creative and put things here that assure me it's all real even though it isn't. Like other (illusory) people in my exact position of doubt, for example. Like all of you. :-)

    However, there is another way that all of us can be equally real, and equally unreal as well. The idea of "ONE-NESS." As in, there is only ONE 'sense-of-identity' in the entire universe, but we all SHARE it and think it's unique to us as individuals. So the person that looks out of my eyes and sees the world and says "I AM..." is the exact same sense of "I AM..." as yours, and everyone elses, even animals, plants, and perhaps even other things not customarily considered alive...

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  125. "..we can never get 'outside' our mind dependent senses to see if they 'really' match.."

    If you base all your arguments on this ridiculous conundrum, this word-play, this 'Joker' card that you can play simply to 'win', then I don't know why you bother.

    If you don't, then you built that 'package' just to play.

    .....................

    "But, presumably, we have passed pure skepticism to get to realism and materialism. Therefore it is YOU who is begging the question here.
    You're just implying the first implied premise, that skepticism and therefore solipsism has been defeated then reneging on that implication later, restarting your own argument, chasing your tail, begging. the. damned. question."

    If what I quoted above were true, then every argument that takes a set of premises as given (for the sake of argument), and that proceeds to draw out conclusions that contradict the initial premises, is question begging.

    Is that what you did then?

    Isn't it true that you might have 'concluded' that, "..we can never get 'outside' our mind dependent senses to see if they 'really' match.." without piling philosophy on philosophy?

    But, I'm pointing out that this 'package' of philosophies each implicitly DENY pure skepticism as in any way 'reasonable'.

    realism is bullshit because, "..we can never get 'outside' our mind dependent senses to see if they 'really' match.."

    materialism is bullshit because, "..we can never get 'outside' our mind dependent senses to see if they 'really' match.."

    And expecially empiricism is bullshit because, ""..we can never get 'outside' our mind dependent senses to see if they 'really' match.."
    (I've read this argument from you BEFORE NOW Eric!)

    Correspondence theory is, need I say, bullshit because, "..we can never get 'outside' our mind dependent senses to see if they 'really' match.."

    So NOW you wish to generalize and say that, "If the above statement is true..(etc.)?"

    In fact, this conundrum can't be true because it doesn't take itself into account!

    Really now, how can you expect to convince anyone that, "..we can never get 'outside' our mind dependent senses to see if they 'really' match..", if you, yourself are not sure that there is anyone 'outside' YOUR mind FOR anyone to convince?

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  126. You might have noticed that I have a bit of a problem with this, as a conclusion to anything, "..we can never get 'outside' our mind dependent senses to see if they 'really' match.."

    I think that I am a streaming consciousness, a process, the sum of many processes. Organic processes which are 'at the same time', both 'inside of' and 'outside of' what we consider our 'mind'.

    Example:- Pain! Is it all in your mind or is it the result of 'firing' nerves(part of the physical structure that IS your 'mind'(both)

    Each of us learn about ourselves and what is not ourselves as we grow.

    We create a simulation of reality IN our minds to deal with actual reality.

    On the other side of the coin, everything is subjective inasmuchas one 'sees' the world from one's own perspective, and, indeed, it HAS TO be that way for you to be an individual streaming consciousness!

    But we learn to empathize(sociopaths not invited, we hear) and sympathize(sadists not invited, we hear) and spiritualize(atheists not invited, we hear) with other streaming consciousnesses(objective, to the 'first person' POV, YET we realize subjective from THEIR POV).

    Since my subjective experience(mind) is different yet pretty much the same as these other objective(yet subjective to themselves) minds and we can only communicate through this medium that we call reality then that is what we DO!

    Even if it is communicating 'spirituality', which is completely subjective itself!

    The question is NOT about whether "..we can never get 'outside' our mind dependent senses to see if they 'really' match..", it is about, as in the example of 'pain', whether it is all in your mind or BOTH in your mind (which is connected to 'outside' reality) and concerned with physical feedback of electro-magnetic processes!

    And because it is BOTH the feedback can start or end at the mind(or even be a mixture of) and be interfered with by both the mind and the physical.

    Is it real or is it memorex? Let's be honest Eric, we both know that it is both!

    But that doesn't really give us license to imagine 'spirituality' into existence, now does it?

    Oh, wait, I, looking out at the 'world' see that it DOES!

    WOW! I could make a heap of cash with one of those licences(licence to preach drivel!) too!

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  127. I cut my finger, I feel pain. Now did I just dream that I cut my finger or is it reality? If my reality is a dream, it is both... and since it's the one dream that I share with everyone else and that I think that I 'live' in, then my pain is as real as pain gets, but it's still my creation, or at the least, a part of the mutual creation that I participate in. So either there are indeed neurons firing, or the neurons don't even really exist but are mere symbols of what is going on, things provided for us by the dream itself to answer our questions, to fill in the blanks, as we must do in this dream. We looked for a mechanism to explain pain, and we found one, but that mechanism would be part of the dream too, if it is a dream.

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  128. Gee, Brian, did you really have to get all 'Twilight-Zoney' on this?

    You DO know the difference between dreams and reality, you do.

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  129. In fact, if this is a dream reality, a Big Brain scenario, then all our science is the result of our seeking with our logical minds for explanations of what we're seeing in our dream world, and dreaming up the explanations as our answers.

    For all we know, there were no stars farther away than a few dozen light years until we made telescopes big enough to see them.

    For all I know, the country of Brazil didn't exist until I visited there ten years ago. And since I haven't been back, no need for it to be still existing now... That's the "danger" of this scenario. No way to tell what is real, since nothing really is. The dream is consistent, since we need it to be. That's about it.

    This would even allow for changes, as long as nobody noticed them.

    For instance, I could SWEAR that the northern turkey vulture never ranged north beyond about Virginia, since I remember reading about them in a field guide when I was a kid. So when I started seeing them here in RI about three years ago, I was rather surprised. So I looked them up (again) and found that sure enough, the range extends northward to RI. Now the funny thing is, when I was a kid I didn't get things like this wrong very often, and the book that I used to look them up recently was the SAME book that I used to have as a kid, the very same one. But now it was different.

    Of course it was my memory. It must be my memory is flawed. Of course the book was always the same. Of course... Except that I remember it so clearly... And since I cannot be SURE, then the dream could have changed, and there's no way to prove it now. That book could have once read differently, and as long as nobody did or will ever notice the change, as long as reality itself has changed along with it, there's just no way to tell. In other words, IF the book once read differently, then it only did so because REALITY was different at that time. So when I was a kid the northern turkey vulture's range only extended north to about Virginia, and now it extends (and has always extended) north to RI.

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  130. Gee, Brian, did you really have to get all 'Twilight-Zoney' on this?
    ------------------
    To you it seems strange, and to me it sems natural. Funny, huh?

    Yes, I do have to. Someone does. After all, there really is no way to tell, is there? It could be as I describe, and all you'd have in that case for your consolation prize is your insistent contention that it's just too weird to be true. "Too weird to be true" is what the truth most likely will be, when we discover it. If it wasn't really weird, we'd already have thought of it.

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  131. If the materialistic scientific paradigm is NOT the truth as regards the nature of reality, then my wager is that a Big Brain scenario of some sort is the most likely contender for it. Just a hunch. :-)

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  132. Picture this Brian.

    You are on a jury and the witness, stunning blonde that she is, explains that she dreamt that her boyfriend had been unfaithful and he'd killed her entire family!

    She explains that she read in a blog, St. Brian's Chronicles it was, yes, that dreams were equally valid, equally real!

    She begs you to not find her guilty of clubbing her sleeping boyfriend and burning him and the house to the ground.

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  133. You DO know the difference between dreams and reality, you do.
    ---------------
    Ahh, or you only think that you do. For if, and I say IF, reality is more in the nature of a field of consciousness, then we only dream dreams within our larger dream. So when we go to sleep and dream, it's a different dream than the one that we're involved with others in, the dream of reality. So I can tell a (sleeping) dream from the "dream" of which I speak, because they're not the same, and I never claimed that they were. I claimed that it's most LIKE a dream. There are obvious HUGE differences.

    Show me where it says that the dream of reality has to be like a dream that we have when we're asleep.

    In fact, let's play a little mental game here. Imagine that all you have is the ability to dream. I mean, your entire consciousness is all dreams. That's all you know. Now imagine that somehow your consciousness is forced to interact on a "virtual playing field" of some sort, a huge field of consciousness (or data; same difference...) Heck, let's call it the "Earth" for the sake of convenience, this community dreaming place, and now add in millions of other dreamers, and all of you have to get along. By that I mean, you have to dream, and they all have to dream, since that's all there is for anybody, but you all have to dream your one communal dream together, interacting, making it seem as real as possible, since you all want it to be real, and unknowingly making up the rules as you go along, since by merely attempting to understand the dream you simultaneously define it... Imagine this, and let it run and "evolve" for a few hundred millennia, and then ask yourself how would it be so different from what we all have (or think that we have) now?

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  134. Picture this Brian.... (etc)
    -----------------------
    Is this what you're really getting out of all this? Because while I didn't think that you were in agreement with me, I at least thought that you understood me. If this is what you think of my scenario, then you are not even bothering to understand that which you are rejecting. I would have thought better of you, my friend.

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  135. "So when I was a kid the northern turkey vulture's range only extended north to about Virginia, and now it extends (and has always extended) north to RI"

    ...and we've always been at war with Oceania! Oh, wait! That's us!

    Oh, well, we've always been at war with ourselves!

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  136. Hey, I admit that the vulture thing was most probably my errant memory. I threw the scenario out there as a possibility, if this really is a BB scenario and not a physical universe. Conjecture. Not a statement of fact, or even of likelihood. Just a thought.

    And I have repeatedly stated that my number one scenario that I would give odds on if I were pressed, is that of science, the scientific paradigm as it exists today. It doesn't have the answers yet, but I do think that it will get there eventually. My BB speculations are my number two most likely scenario. Not my main belief system, if you want to call it that. I do like it a lot, since it's more personally empowering, but that doesn't make it true, and I know that.

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  137. You are on a jury and the witness, stunning blonde that she is, explains that she dreamt that her boyfriend had been unfaithful and he'd killed her entire family!
    --------------------
    How did you know Tricia? Because I definitely dated her...

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  138. Brian, I have always disagreed with you on your Big Brain Theory. I think that it 'opens the door' to other types of spirituality or supernaturalism and I don't think that it is necessary to do that.

    I'm sure that theists of all stripes and colors feel that 'someday' you might come to 'realise' that The Big Brain is GOD.

    I hadn't read your comment on 'types of dreams' before my comment about the girl who upon waking felt justified in murdering her boyfriend.

    You can hardly blame me for thinking of a dream as a dream.

    Maybe you need two different words for those two different notions?

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  139. One of the problems in talking about this stuff is that it invariably sounds like doublespeak. It isn't.

    And I do believe that Oceania is the australopacific region, no?

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  140. Ah, Tricia..

    .. she called herself Diane when I went with her.(the bitch)!

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  141. Maybe you need two different words for those two different notions?
    ----------------
    The word for the latter tye of dream is *maya.* It's just not an english word. Dream comes closest, I think, at least to the western mind.

    And I always knew that you disagreed. I guess I didn't realize how preposterous you considered it. It grates to be lumped in with the religious crowd as an idiot when I see my BB speculations as at least based in logic. But, dems the berries, I guess.

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  142. Oceania is where Big Brother screws with Winston Smith's mind.

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  143. I understand, Brian. I'm sorry that it grates you.

    As I explained, I feel that it opens a door to the unreal.

    'Word verification' is 'prove'!

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  144. You can hardly blame me for thinking of a dream as a dream.
    ----------------
    Well, I can if I've already told you that it's "like a dream" and not "a dream." Which I think I have before, on the DD boards, if not here. But no matter...

    Hey, I think that the idea of Yaweh being real is preposterous, but if the question is rephrased as "Is there a God?" (generic God) then I can have no real answer to it, and I certainly can't call it preposterous anymore, since there's really nothing contraindicating it, as there is Yaweh for instance.

    So how do you find something preposterous when it is definitely possible and there's no way that you can prove it isn't real, and there's nothing to contraindicate it, and it doesn't even go against logic? Just curious. Because if I can't scoff at the idea of a God, then you certainly shouldn't be able to scoff at the idea of a Big Brain scenario being the base of all reality. There's no real way to tell, but unlike with the God thing, some things, scientific things, actually seem to point to it. So it's not as if science is finding things that go against it. Quite the contrary. Things like entanglement and the wave-particle duality, the role of the observer in quantum events, these sorts of things all make more sense if it's all a "big brain..."

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  145. As I explained, I feel that it opens a door to the unreal.
    ----------------------------
    It does. Yes, unfortunately, in the way that you mean "unreal," it does. That is its flaw, and its charm. Which is the main reason that I still maintain that science is the worldview most likely to be eventually found out to be the true one. If you think about it, ANY other worldview than science opens that door. I just happen to think that if that door has to be opened (in other words, if science is not on the right track) then my BB scenario is the most "scientific" and generic way to do it... And if one day science were to discover that the basis of all reality is consciousness, is "spirit" and not dead matter, then again I think it will be through some variant of my BB scenario.

    There are two possibilities. The door to the unreal is open, or it is closed. Science is based in this world, in this paradigm, in this "box," so it would follow that science is useless in determining the reality of the unreal... lol... So I choose to have TWO simultaneous, concurrent "belief systems" running at the same time. The scientific view is not in any way compromised by my investigation of the other view. I can do both. So I do.

    You choose to run with the most likely scenario. I like it too, but saw another possible one, and as they didn't really conflict, I decided to run with both of them at the same time. So whichever one might turn out to be true, I'll already be prepared. :-)

    Or so goes my theory.... lol.

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  146. "You can hardly blame me for thinking of a dream as a dream.
    ----------------
    Well, I can if I've already told you that it's "like a dream" and not "a dream." Which I think I have before.."

    But this..
    "I cut my finger, I feel pain. Now did I just dream that I cut my finger or is it reality? If my reality is a dream, it is both..."

    .. what has that to do with you BB theory?

    If you read my comment to Eric, you'll notice that it is NOT calling your BB theory 'preposterous' or 'scoffing at it'.

    Hey, if you're talking about the 'cut finger' thingy, you can surely see how it was that I took you to mean dreaming as dreaming.

    I think that you can hardly deny that your BB theory is subjective and I'm not denying, in fact I'm SAYING that we are subjective.

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  147. Keep in mind that I wouldn't be arguing this or even talking about it if I hadn't had subjective experiences in my life that science couldn't account for, at least not to my satisfaction. And they didn't start till my mid-thirties. I want to stress that I didn't go looking for a spiritual view on reality and then have weird experiences; I had weird experiences and then went looking for an explanation for them, and it turned out to be a "spiritual" one. All science could tell me was that they were within the normal distribution curve for coincidences along with a few outliers.... I'd been PAYINIG ATTENTION to EVERYTHING my whole life... I think I'd know if these were normal or not. I have some familiarity with statistics as well, and what I experience is not dismissable as mere outliers on a bell curve. Some of them are incredibly significant.

    But alas, these are not proof of anything, and I know it. So I keep looking. Wouldn't you in my position?

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  148. "I cut my finger, I feel pain. Now did I just dream that I cut my finger or is it reality? If my reality is a dream, it is both..."

    .. what has that to do with you BB theory?
    -----------------
    I see your point. I had thought that I had already defined my BB scenario as "like a dream" and not literally a dream. So in that supposed knowledge I felt free to "shorthand" it and just call it a dream. I see how this must have been incredibly confusing now. Sorry. :-)

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  149. Anyway, Brian, we were talking about 'truth' and I was trying to get through Eric's thick skull that 'we can't get 'outside' our minds', just won't do!

    ... while Eric is trying to get it through MY thick skull that he thinks it WILL do!

    I'm trying to point out that Eric's mind/reality conundrum is a 'conversation stopper' because it even DENIES the 'proof' of reality.

    If I said that I had a million dollars cash, you might ask me to prove it!

    In 'regular' circumstances, if I proceeded to show you 1,000,000/the largest denomination of bills made by the U.S.A. and you were satisfied that they were real by us going to the bank and depositing them then you and I would accept that as proof!

    Not Eric though! He can always invoke the old, "my mind will not accept this", philosophical rule, if and when he chooses.

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  150. The thing about maya, this dream reality (if there is such of course) is that while it's technically not real, it is also technically real, in that it's as "real" as real ever gets. So in this "dream" unlike in regular dreams, you are accountable for what you do, since others are in the dream too and are dreaming it with you, and will notice what you do and remember it. It really is *as good as* "regular" reality in that sense. So while someone might attempt to appeal to the "dream nature of reality" as an excuse for their homicide of their boyfriend, since the court system, the victim's family, and the rest of the world are equally "unreal" and yet are also involved and have "seen" it too, it is thus real to all involved, and as such cannot be appealed to as false when nothing can be said to be more real. To summarize, the courts etc. are a part of the "dream" and as such cannot be appealed to by citing the unreality of the dream. If you commit murder in THIS dream, you get life in prison, again only in THIS dream... You're still free in all your other dreams, though.... lol...

    (I'm shorthanding the BB-Dream thingy again, sorry)

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  151. Of course, in your original example the young lady was using a normal dream as the excuse, but its the same difference...

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  152. Well, the 'girl who took her 'worst fears' dream seriously' is not exactly the same as your BB theory.

    For example, are you saying that if enough people believe in Yahweh then HE becomes real?

    Talk about 'confusion reigns'!!!

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  153. "I'm trying to point out that Eric's mind/reality conundrum is a 'conversation stopper' because it even DENIES the 'proof' of reality."

    That's not true (e.g. Kant); but that's not important right now.

    What is important is that the conundrum is only 'mine' in the sense that I'm the one presenting it here; technically, however, it's the materialism-realism-empiricism-correspondence (MREC for short) conundrum: in other words, the premises of MREC *logically entail* the conundrum. This is why atheistic, science-minded philosopher like Russell have called Hume's philosophy (which was MREC) a dead end:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=obY48lTt-2AC&pg=PA39&lpg=PA39&dq=BERTRAND+RUSSELL+empiricism+logical+dead+end&source=web&ots=vWV7uC3jVt&sig=VAmf8FFnfKGgSJuexa7rKvbFjqk&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result

    (see the third paragraph)

    Note, *not all empiricists are Humean empiricists*; e.g. Berkeley was an empiricist and an idealist (as opposed to a materialist); Aristotle's empiricism also differed from Hume's (especially given Aristotle's moderate realism about universals, *which requires a denial of materialism*). The important point about Hume's empiricism -- the point that makes it untenable -- is that it's part of a package deal: MREC!

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  154. Oh, well, I figured that you'd be hiding behind other philosophers Eric.

    My comments don't 'lose' anything by being against them.

    If you don't want to dispute my comments againt 'MREC' then we'll just 'take them' as defeating it.

    Perhaps some day you'll tell us what YOU think (the)truth is.

    Who knows, you might?!

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  155. The "real world", or rather the world of the Ego, is convoluted by nature. Point being, it makes the idea of truth seem far more complex than it really is. The Ego thrives on details and all details are simply distractions from the truth.

    TRUTH is whatever makes YOU feel good right now. ANYTHING else is a distraction. Truth can change, but as long as it is true in YOUR present moment, it IS truth, even if contradicts anything and everything of the perceived world around you.

    To KNOW truth, there is only one question: "How does this make me feel right now?" If the answer is GOOD, then it is truth. If the answer is Bad, then it is false. If the answer is, "Well, it feels good right now, but tomorrow it may not because of the consequences...... no matter what those consequences are the answer is it is Truth. Consequence are themselves are the illusion.

    Either what I am saying here rings TRUE with you or it doesn't. There is no need to agree on what truth is. All that really matters is what I am saying is TRUE to me RIGHT NOW.


    FORD
    www.becominggod.org

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  156. Hello Ford! Nice to see you here.

    Interesting comment. I'm not sure I know what you mean. Truth is what makes me feel good now? That could be my faith in Ahura Mazda, no? Or my faith in a made-up God... Which I can't see as a truth, except if I believe it I guess it could be called a truth to me, but not a truth in general. Heck, I could be feeling good now because I believe that when I go on that killing spree I'm planning later on it will make me immortal... See my point?

    Pboy said: "For example, are you saying that if enough people believe in Yahweh then HE becomes real?"

    Well, there are theories that if enough people believe in something totally, that our very compliant universe will oblige them by allowing the creation of a 'thought form.' This is a synthetic form that has no real existence but the universe acts like it does, for the sake of it's believers. The believers expect the form, say Yaweh, to be real, to answer prayers, etc... Yaweh isn't the one doing it, but it seems like it is to the believers. This in no way makes Yaweh real in the sense of a real God. But it can (theoretically) create a thought form that answers questions and even prayers as if it were a real God.
    (I'm not sure that I'd go this far, but you asked)

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  157. There is no need to agree on what truth is. -Ford
    ------------------------
    But I think there are times when it becomes necessary to know the truth of a matter. Like a murder trial for instance. No?

    Or take the issue of Intelligent Design... When we consider what we want to teach in a science class we have to take a stand on ID as not being "in truth" science. From a scientific point of view, it's a lie. And we're talking about science class, so within the defined context, ID is not true, so we don't teach it.

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  158. Well, the 'girl who took her 'worst fears' dream seriously' is not exactly the same as your BB theory.
    --------------------
    Not the same, no. She's misunderstanding my BB theory to say that her sleeping dream is equivalent to the waking one we all share. Wrong. I never said that. It's not the same as a regular dream.

    I guess that I changed it around a bit to where the girl is instead using the BB theory as her defense. Which doesn't work either, since in THIS dream, she killed someone, and in THIS dream, unlike in her other dreams, there are other consciousnesses involved dreaming it too. So there are consequences in THIS dream. People remember what you did. People are impacted by your actions in this dream. In regular ones, not so much.

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  159. I'm sure that theists of all stripes and colors feel that 'someday' you might come to 'realise' that The Big Brain is GOD.
    -pboy
    ------------------------------
    Funny you should say that. My fondest wish is that someday all theists of all stripes will realize that all gods are the Big Brain... :-)

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  160. If the BB thing is truly the real and correct description of reality then either all Gods are thought-forms, given a type of existence by the very nature of the BB, or they're even less than that, merely a fulfillment of the worshipper's expectations of their God by the BB, since they already believe it...

    Interestingly enough, this will also hold true with atheists that take their atheism to the level of a belief. They too will actually see evidence that they're right, even if they're not.

    I'm not saying that I personally BELIEVE that the BB is true, but what I am saying is that IF it is true, then we're all going to have one hell of a hard time telling. Because when we believe that it isn't true, the BB will let us see things that confirm that! ANYTHING we believe strongly enough will find confirmation. Anything whatsoever.

    Even the BB itself of course. If I believe that it's true, or even suspect it strongly, it will give me confirmation of this, as it has. However, to my mind this is the only time that said confirmation is correct, MUST BE correct, since what it's confirming in this case isn't a God or the lack of one; it is confirming the very malleability of the uninverse that proves the BB theory in the first place.

    So if I believe in God, I see God. But if I believe in a universe that let's me see whatever I believe, and then I SEE that universe that let's me see whatever I believe, and I can also see that it lets others see whatever they believe, this gives me a real clue as to the real nature of the universe. Malleability. Like a dream. Just a much more rigidly defined dream, due to the fact that millions are dreaming it together.

    Or I'm all wet. The other choice, of course.

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  161. I used the term "thought form" and I didn't really define it adequately. I think it's best to use a comparison. Let's say that Yaweh is either a thought-form, or it's just the aggregated wish-fulfillment affect that is natural to the BB. In the first case the thought-form of Yaweh has a degree of seperate existence. It even has its own thoughts. It is created out of the beliefs of humans, true, but so detailed were these beliefs that the form created from them has independence and can be said to be a consciousness, albeit disincarnate. Whereas in the latter case, it's just the universe acting like Yaweh, and Yaweh has no independence other than the appearance of it caused again by our beliefs.

    I don't really believe in thought-forms, by the way. I don't see them as even necessary. I think the effect of the BB, it's response to our deepest beliefs and expectations, is more than adequate to the task of deceiving us into belief in an unreal God without having to actually create a consciousness that thinks it is that God.

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  162. I think that if we're talking about truth in the sense of tradition(what we've always believed and this kind of thing, we can get in deep trouble if this 'truth' doesn't gibe with what we like to call 'facts'.

    Once again though, this, "..we can never get 'outside' our mind dependent senses to see if they 'really' match..", seems to put the 'stoppers' on any progress.

    I've tried to explain that this is a trick. It sets up the notion of 'mind' as completely 'cut-off' from and different from solid reality.

    e.g.TECHNICALLY, we cannot 'see' the same cup sitting on the table in front of us, and TECHNICALLY we can't see the cup as it 'really' is.

    There is no getting away from the fact that this conundrum leads to pure skepticism and solipsism if it is true.

    But, we can defeat pure skepticism and solipsism and the idea that we need to know EVERYTHING or we know NOTHING, and we can do this while not introducing the spiritual or supernatural.

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  163. When you're a little baby you don't know the diference between a dream and reality. They seem the same to you at first.

    Funny if you turned out to be right, huh?

    :-)

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  164. But, we can defeat pure skepticism and solipsism and the idea that we need to know EVERYTHING or we know NOTHING, and we can do this while not introducing the spiritual or supernatural.
    ---------------------------
    The idea that we need to know everything or we know nothing is obviously invalid. Even about God. Or about the nature of the universe. A little learning is always preferable to none at all. Of course, a little learning can also be a dangerous thing...

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  165. and we can do this while not introducing the spiritual or supernatural.
    -----------------------
    True. But I want to point out that if the BB thing is true, it's definitely natural. :-) As natural as it gets. It *explains* the supernatural as not so super-natural but instead as variations within the "dream" that are (rarely) "allowed" due to (in my opinion) the fact that they can never be proven. If they could have been proven, the universe wouldn't have allowed them to happen. Proof of the supernatural is against the rules. The rules that we set up by our expectations, in our "consensual reality" that we all created together.

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  166. Well, we live in the electro-magnetic reality and we can 'glimpse behind the curtain' and 'name' 'things' that might 'exist' for an instant.

    We can look out at the sky, looking farther and farther back in time. Hey who knows what these objects are doing NOW.

    We don't know if light 'degrades' over vast time scales. We could set up an experiment, wait a billion years and 'see'.

    What about 'into' the 'mind'? What are the, "Machine elves (also known as fractal elves, self-transforming machine elves) seen by some under the influence of DMT?

    Seems to me that they are telling us, simply that they are us, our purpose is life's purpose, to BE alive and to replicate.

    They are imaginary representations of our primal instinct.

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  167. I don't think a photon can degrade, ever. No (zero) time passes for them, since they always are moving at C.

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  168. We already know that it doesn't degrade over 14 billion years. (The distance to farthest visible objects)

    Electromagnetic reality. But what if that too is just what we found when we looked for what causes things? As in, we looked at something with no "fine texture" yet, and it, being infinitely malleable, provided some for us to study. Hey, whatever floats our boat. :-)

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  169. Science always builds on what is already known. Like a huge pyramid. The newest discoveries are all related to the discoveries that have gone before. This is how we have carefully constructed the edifice of science. And if the BB speculation is correct, also thus we have carefully constructed the universe that we find ourselves in, and it all makes sense because it has to. It all had to fit together perfectly, because that is what we demanded of it. So when a "superrnatural event" occurs, we always will prove it to be untrue, since we have to of necessity, or the entire edifice tumbles down. The universe will simply not allow any supernatural event to occur that can be proven to the mainstream. Against the rules.

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  170. Brian, you say, "I don't think a photon can degrade, ever. No (zero) time passes for them, since they always are moving at C."

    Well, this is the dogma, isn't it?

    Let's imagine that a photon loses a certain amount of energy over huge distances/amounts of time.

    'blue' turning to 'green' for example.

    You can't just 'set up' a mirror experiment and 'test' it after a few minutes or a few years even.

    If galaxies, billions of light years away are redshifted because of relative movement AND degradation then they'd SEEM to be moving faster away than they really are.

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  171. In fact, given a galaxy SO far away, it might be redshifted due to the degration and STILL be coming at us like a 'bat out of Hell'.

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  172. You're confusing photon degradation or perhaps the lessening of energy of the photon, with wavelength changes, dude. Doppler effect is lengthening of wavelength. Color is wavelength and not photon energy. The color of a beam of light is indicative of its energy only in that higher energy (temperature) sources produce smaller and smaller wavelengths and vice-versa. At least that's how I understand it. I may well be in error, and if so I would welcome the correction.

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  173. Perhaps I'm thinking too dualistically? I mean, the wave-particle duality is not intuitive. Perhaps what you're saying is that if the energy of a photon COULD degrade, the effect would be a lengthening of it's wavelength, a la Doppler? That must be it. Since I've never thought about a photon degrading before, I didn't make the connection.

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  174. Brian, you say, "I don't think a photon can degrade, ever. No (zero) time passes for them, since they always are moving at C."

    Well, this is the dogma, isn't it?
    --------------------
    More than you think. To me, it's all (possibly) dogma, including the existence of the photon in the first place.

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  175. WHOA I definitely missed a deep discussion here. Maybe it's my own existential limitations but truth has never seemed that elusive to me. Deep truth is what is defined by the nature of the universe and the laws which govern its behaviors and limits. Being a mere part of this universe it seems unlikely that we can truly ever glean the absolute truth or factual basis of this universe let alone any others. Our understanding of things comes from our minds interpretations of events viewed through the filter of our cognitive limits which are subsets of this universe. Science is our way of attempting to codify our observations into a consistent approximation of true reality which gets closer and closer to the objective truth of things. The model becomes better as it reflects the evidence more precisely and predicts future events more completely. Of course to a larger or lessor extent it always remains an approximate model of reality since our reality is by definition less than the whole.
    It's all those ambiguities that leave openings for all sorts of metaphysical and pseudo-scientific explanations as well as more empirical ones.

    That's my take on it at least.

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  176. What has worked for me is to look at Everything as a thought form relative to your perception of it. Try to see everything as an emanation of your feelings now. Forget about "Truth in General" or even that we need "others" to agree on something to make it true. People agreeing on anything is an illusion. What is real is the experience of the moment as perceived by you.

    The only part of any experience that is retained is the emotional aspect of it. Something happens, I am witness to it... how did that make me feel? Beyond this, the feeling itself is void of connotation external to your perception. Good and bad are merely two sides of the same morality coin of duality which just "is". Who cares if "others" believe something is moral or immoral. The questions are: Did I prefer the feeling or do I prefer to move toward a different feeling? Morals themselves are again relative to you.

    "Heck, I could be feeling good now because I believe that when I go on that killing spree I'm planning later on it will make me immortal..." -Saint Brain The Godless

    The f.e.a.r. (False Evidence Appearing Real) is well, then if I believe it feels good to kill everyone then that is true. To answer you straight forward (and I must be careful here) is yes, even this is true if it feels right to you NOW. But I believe there is an underlying moral that is instinctual that says, killing others does not elevate my consciousness. Morality rather than being thought of as black and white should be viewed as relative and preferential. For example, we all have different thresholds of comfort regarding temperature. Some like it warm, some prefer it hot, but no one is going to prefer to sit in a pot of boiling water or walk naked through the antarctic. These extremes are counter productive to elevating consciousness, Just as going on a killing spree is.

    One last point is this: In the killing argument proposed above, the idea was that killing would

    "...later on make me immortal....",

    the fault here is acting now to create a feeling not presently held in the now, but anticipated for the future. I cannot stress enough that TRUTH is how you feel RIGHT NOW AT THIS PRESENT MOMENT.

    This is the guiding rule to live by: "Do what feels good to you right now without malice." acting on that will always reveal truth.

    FORD
    www.becominggod.org

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  177. Brian - I love wave/particle duality! It is one of the best reminders that our little primate brains are somewhat limited in understanding the true nature of reality.

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  178. To answer you straight forward (and I must be careful here) is yes, even this is true if it feels right to you NOW. But I believe there is an underlying moral that is instinctual that says, killing others does not elevate my consciousness.
    -Ford
    -------------------------------
    I believe that as well, but I can also SEE that many of my fellow human do not have that "moral" and indeed do seem to like to kill, and like the way that it makes them feel, empowered and alive... Their goal is not to elevate their consciousnesses, but only to feel powerful by killing something or someone weaker than they are... How can I expect my fellow humans to adhere to a moral code that perhaps should be universal, but isn't yet? They certainly are willing enough to kill and even kill often and a lot... They seem to revel in it. How to deal with them, when of course they're only understanding "truth" to be what makes them feel good at the moment?

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  179. Yea, well, anyway Brian, that was my point.

    Trying to glimpse sub-atomic wave/particles or understand the universe with wave/particles, I think that we just can't know everything, even as the collective knowledge of the species.

    Now just 'sticking to' the 'local' environment(or reality) of the electro-magnetic is mind-blowing!

    What 'amazes' nuclear physicists 'amuses' me.

    What were they thinking, that it was going to be 'easy'?

    The only trouble is that propagandists like D'Souza can twist their amazement of their 'defined' scientific laws, try to twist them into 'prescribed laws' for HIS amusement.

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  180. "...later on make me immortal....",

    the fault here is acting now to create a feeling not presently held in the now, but anticipated for the future. I cannot stress enough that TRUTH is how you feel RIGHT NOW AT THIS PRESENT MOMENT.
    ---------------
    I fail to see a difference. If I feel good at the present moment because I know that I'm going to kill a whole bunch of people in the near future and that by killing them I will acheive immortality, then I feel good in the present moment because I'm about to go on a rampage... If you do not allow me to anticipate future pleasure like that, I can rephrase it all and just say that I'm now, at the present moment, going on a rampage, and boy does it feel good. Pop! I just shot another innocent in the head... Pop! There goes another one! Boy, am I in the moment here! I can just FEEL the immortality flowing into me with every innocent person that I kill! Pop!

    You take my point, I assume. Please clarify further. :-)

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  181. I feel the same way, Pliny. Our poor little primate brains!

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  182. The only trouble is that propagandists like D'Souza can twist their amazement of their 'defined' scientific laws, try to twist them into 'prescribed laws' for HIS amusement.
    -------------------
    Yeah, that always pissed me off too.

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  183. Ford, I agree with you. Truth is an individuals perception of what reality means to him/her.

    "How can I expect my fellow humans to adhere to a moral code that perhaps should be universal, but isn't yet?"

    Simple answer: you cant. That is the price you pay for individuality. That other people believe that their own version is truth. You will never ever get them to see things differently. And who is to say that they are wrong? I know people who will deny what I believe as fact until I get sick of arguing. Then I realize that they really believe what they think. That is their truth.

    What a person believes is only true to them. I think Ford is saying that regardless of what everyone else thinks, its the perception that is true, not the "fact".

    of course, this is all true only to me.

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  184. Just for fun...

    http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainment/Quizzes/BeliefOMatic.aspx

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  185. Eric,

    I tried the quiz there, and none of the questions had anything really similar to what I think about reality. So after answering "none of the above" like four or five times I just gave it up.

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  186. I really think that we're changing the definition of truth here. I mean, if I believe that I can fly and decide to try it, I'm fairly sure that I will be proven wrong immediately and severely. So on my way down as I fall to my death, do I change my mind and decide that it wasn't true for me after all, or do I continue flapping my arms faster and faster all the way down, secure till the very last microsecond in my "truth" and just "knowing" that I will pull up at the last possible moment and miss the pavement?

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  187. Or back to my mythical scenario where I'm going to kill a bunch of people in the "knowledge" that such actions will make me immortal, and what the heck, give me super powers as well... This "knowledge," this "truth" of mine makes me very happy. I've always wanted super powers.

    So my "truth" makes me happy right now. So it's truth. Huh? No, it is assuredly not a truth. It is false. Obviously and even comically.

    It's not "my truth." It's not any kind of truth whatsoever. It is the very opposite of truth. It is a lie I've told to myself. It is WRONG. Period. To claim that this is some type of a truth, any type, is to dilute the definition of the word "truth" itself to where it becomes utterly useless.

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  188. Or if anticipation of the future is not allowed, then let's say that my "truth" is that I believe that I can talk to the animals, learn their languages. Heck, even chatter to a chimp in chimpanzee...

    It's not truth either, is it? I mean, the animals don't give a shit about my chattering, but the *people* had me committed for it, and now I'm in a mental hospital telling my tale to Napolean and Neville Chamberlaine, who incidentally also believe in a few "truths" that aren't... I've made a putz out of myself for a stupid belief which was a LIE that I told to myself and decided that it was true.

    And it's all your fault, Ford.
    :-) Look what you've done....

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  189. If this reality is just a dream - I'd like to wake up. It is only in my dreams that I wish never to awake at all.

    My dreams hold scary visions, harrowing scenes that I know will fade as the light of day emerges.

    It is when I wake that the stuff of true nightmares begin - because they never end. Day after day, minute by minute - the reality of my existence drags on endlessly, I know of the want of ending it. It isn't pain I fear or even death - it is life that I dread with every waking moment of time.

    What good is reality if it cannot be twisted into some sort of happiness, some plausible peace?

    What if reality is more akin to fear, laced with feelings of disgust and grief for a life that was never to be, a life that was perhaps just a dream?

    I tread carefully as I walk this path, lest my fragile knowledge of reality slip through the cracks.

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  190. Saint Brian,

    Are we having homicidal tendencies? (Just kidding) Actually, I love the banter and you really have me on my toes here.

    To answer you questions, yes you are right. If killing feels good to you in the moment, by all means go for it- because at the end of everything nothing really matters except for ones pain or pleasure. Everything is a thought-form and it is no more or less real than playing make-believe cowboys and indians as a child or having homicidal tendencies when we dream. All of it is equally fluid as it is real.

    But for me, killing for pleasure is the furthest thing from happiness that I can think of. Even the thought of hunting makes me queasy. Does this mean I should think poorly of hunters who get a thrill out of killing defenseless animals? No, it is their life and if killing makes them happy, then I am happy for them.

    Now for the crux of your concern: If everybody just went around killing because it felt good, they might be able to kill me. This is a FEAR. FEAR is illusion. Why should I worry about anything outside of my box of reality. Why should I have any concern over anything outside of my present moment?

    Truth is: If I hold on to my truth (always doing what is right for me) and also hold a level of unattachment to all things material (including my body), I am insulated from anything and everything.

    Let the killers kill, the thieves steal and the liars lie. None of it has anything to do with "ME"- the identity that I hold as my mind. A mind which is eternal.


    On the second question pertaining to flying. I believe that once we can fully overcome our fear and doubt, anything is possible. I am 99% sure that I can fly. I am sure that I am doing much more than that now, because there is no floor that I walk on. I had to imagine a floor out of nothing to walk on it. So why can't I fly? I can't, because I have no experience doing it, which is the quickest threshold to over come my doubt and to accept the seemingly impossible as truth. Eventually, my doubts and fears will be fully overcome and I will hold the truth that I can defy the illusion of gravity.

    Once again truth is not universal, it is personal. Everything is relative to you. Everything is a metaphoric extrapolation of your feelings and beliefs.

    FORD
    www.becominggod.org

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  191. FORD,
    Interesting perspectives, but don't be surprised if I vote against you if you run with these principles for public office.

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  192. But for me, killing for pleasure is the furthest thing from happiness that I can think of. Even the thought of hunting makes me queasy. Does this mean I should think poorly of hunters who get a thrill out of killing defenseless animals? No, it is their life and if killing makes them happy, then I am happy for them.
    -Ford
    -----------------
    Yes, very interesting perspectives. No, seriously. :-)

    I agree with you about the killing (utterly and completely and more than you know) but the part I wonder about is how you can be happy for the killers? Is this "reality" really such a fantasy then? Because I can excuse the killers only if I know that it's all *not real.* Of course if I go that far (I am a variable, for my own amusement) then I must concede even the basic "unreality" of "Ford" and so then why am I talking to you again?

    (joke)

    We must agree on terminology or insanity is the result. A word like "truth" can admittedly have many meanings and connotations. I have to make some sort of a "call" on such things or I cannot be effective in life. The word can be incredibly complex dependent on its context, but it must always (to me) be understood in its simplest possible applicable meaning that fulfills its context, and not be over-complicated and over-examined or over-philosophisized, or you kill it. It's fragile that way. After all, its only a word in a language. So for instance, to me the killer or the hunter of animals (I was once one myself as a boy) needs to realize that in this world at this time, it is no longer necessary to cause needless suffering for our succinolcholic pleasure. (I'm not talking here about subsistence hunters that need to hunt to live, like Inuits or something like that, btw.)

    So I stopped all hunting-related activities at around puberty. When I started to *empathize* with my prey. Heck, I even have trouble killing flies, now.

    Now since we've used the generic "killer" here as well, I must wonder if you also think (or feel) that you can be happy for the killer of a fellow person, a fellow human, as long as he of course was happy about the action at the time. A murderer, in common parlance.

    I crave elucidation here. Starvin'.

    The word "truth," being as noted, context-variable, must then of necessity on occasion be a very complex concept, when the context is a complex subject such as the nature of existence or related to such. In such a context I might be able to see it as you do. This is what I am hoping will happen here. But the word is so malleable that I am also hoping that you can explain how your statements about it are so matter-of-fact and definite. I hope I'm no trying your patience here. This is fun to me...

    Peace...

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  193. One way to interpret some of the comments here is that Narcissism bends reality to its will? I get a lot of that from my teenagers.

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  194. Ann coulter's mouth wired shut - literally. Is anybody getting this news?

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