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Author Topic:   Objective reality
nwr
Member
Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 1 of 172 (559052)
05-06-2010 10:39 AM


I'm proposing this thread, so that we do not continue to take Creation, Evolution, and faith off topic.

In Message 437, Creation, Evolution, and faith, Stile writes:
There is "objective reality".
There is "known to exist within objective reality".
There is "unknown to exist within objective reality".
There is "known to not exist within objective reality".

In my opinion, these sorts of statements are usually slogans, rather than precise statements.

Can anybody actually give a satisfactory definition of "objective reality"?


Replies to this message:
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 Message 5 by Straggler, posted 05-07-2010 8:07 PM nwr has acknowledged this reply
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Adminnemooseus
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Posts: 3879
Joined: 09-26-2002


Message 2 of 172 (559142)
05-06-2010 11:41 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Objective reality thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 3813
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 3 of 172 (559211)
05-07-2010 3:24 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by nwr
05-06-2010 10:39 AM


Can anybody actually give a satisfactory definition of "objective reality"?

Not completely since "satisfactory" is subjective.

Something like Descartes' Meditations III where he delineates between degrees of reality, substances and modes and formal realities is not for me "satisfactory."

I've always liked the simple approach where objective reality is what is left when all the subjective cultural constructs are stripped away (mind independent if you will).

I would suggest a separation between "objective reality" and the "perception of objective reality" since the latter must be mind dependent and must be verified by other sentient minds.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by nwr, posted 05-06-2010 10:39 AM nwr has acknowledged this reply

  
Rahvin
Member (Idle past 1264 days)
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 4 of 172 (559212)
05-07-2010 3:44 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by nwr
05-06-2010 10:39 AM


Can anybody actually give a satisfactory definition of "objective reality"?

I've always liked the dictionary:

quote:
intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book.

Objective reality would be that which exists outside of our own minds, independant of our thoughts or feelings or knowledge or beliefs. If there is a pen on my desk, its presence is independent f whether I am aware of it, or believe it, or like it.

We detect objective reality through subjective means, because the analysis of sensory information happens within our own minds. I do not see the building across the street - I see a pattern of shapes and colors, which I interpret subjectively to be the building based on past experiences.

It's impossible to know with certainty what is and is not objectively real. After all, we could be in the Matrix, in which case nothing exists in objective reality and all of what we see is subjective. Or, you could all be figments of my subjective imagination.

However, for practical purposes, we treat our sensory information as a reflection of objective reality. How we determine that what we've detected is what we think it is in objective reality (was that a bird I saw out of the corner of my eye, or just a falling leaf?) is a more complciated subject, and is the reason we have myths regarding ghosts and fairies and other things that people will claim to have detected through subjective means, but for which no external evidence can be found to place them in objective reality.

For me, I determine what I consider to be objectively real based on a concordance with my other senses and the evidence left behind. If I saw a man, do I still see him? Do I see footprints, or hear him speaking? If I saw him briefly out of my peripheral vision for only a moment and now cannot find either him or any trace of his passing, I will be less confident that the man exists objectively, and will consider that I may have simply misinterpreted limited sensory information.

When multiple people see something, I count their individual subjective experiences as evidence of the objective when they agree, to a point, for mundane observations only. If my neighbor claims to have seen a cat, I'll believe him. For extraordinary claims, I require extraordinary evidence - if a hundred people claim to have seen an alien spacecraft, I will believe that they all saw something, but I will require additional, independent data (video evidence, a piece of the craft, something other than "I said so") to verify their interpretation of what was seen.

This establishes a base of what I would consider practical knowledge of objective reality. I assume that our sensory information is indicative of objective reality because without that assumption nothing else can follow. I easily believe what is frequently observed, and am skeptical of claims of the extraordinary even when multiple people make similar claims if no independent evidence can support their interpretation of their subjective experiences. Anything else would lead me to frequently believe misinterpreted subjective nonsense to be objectively true, or would cause me to doubt even the most mundane of claims.


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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 5 of 172 (559239)
05-07-2010 8:07 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by nwr
05-06-2010 10:39 AM


Defining "Objective"
Can anybody actually give a satisfactory definition of "objective reality"?

Not a definition as such - But I would start with something along the lines of it meaning that which can be said to exist externally to the minds of those perceiving or conceptualising it. That which exists in some sense independently to subjective experience.

Nwr elsewhere writes:

Some (including me) would argue that objectivity is just shared subjectivity anyway.

I still have no idea what you are talking about here BTW. "Shared subjectivity" sounds to me like it is bordering on the oxymoronic.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by nwr, posted 05-06-2010 10:39 AM nwr has acknowledged this reply

  
Rrhain
Member
Posts: 6349
From: San Diego, CA, USA
Joined: 05-03-2003


Message 6 of 172 (559254)
05-07-2010 10:22 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Rahvin
05-07-2010 3:44 PM


Rahvin writes:

quote:
It's impossible to know with certainty what is and is not objectively real. After all, we could be in the Matrix, in which case nothing exists in objective reality and all of what we see is subjective. Or, you could all be figments of my subjective imagination.

But Descartes did cover this in his Pensees, concluding with the famous line: I think, therefore I am. And while I find a lot lacking in Descartes, this point does make sense: The very fact that you are aware in the first place is proof positive that there is an objective reality. Everything you perceive may be a tremendously creative illusion, but you objectively exist. Even if your entire consciousness is a "program" in some sort of cosmic computer, that still says that there is a "there" for you to be in.


Rrhain

Thank you for your submission to Science. Your paper was reviewed by a jury of seventh graders so that they could look for balance and to allow them to make up their own minds. We are sorry to say that they found your paper "bogus," specifically describing the section on the laboratory work "boring." We regret that we will be unable to publish your work at this time.

Minds are like parachutes. Just because you've lost yours doesn't mean you can use mine.
This message is a reply to:
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cavediver
Member (Idle past 1721 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


Message 7 of 172 (559283)
05-08-2010 4:50 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Rahvin
05-07-2010 3:44 PM


It's impossible to know with certainty what is and is not objectively real. After all, we could be in the Matrix, in which case nothing exists in objective reality and all of what we see is subjective.

What is it that makes the perceived "objective reality" within the Matrix any less objective than that perceived outside the Matrix?

Surely the universe within the Matrix just forms a natural (constructed) extension to our own Universe, and is just as subject to scientific invetsigation from within and without.


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Replies to this message:
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onifre
Member (Idle past 1028 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 8 of 172 (559307)
05-08-2010 1:26 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by nwr
05-06-2010 10:39 AM


Can anybody actually give a satisfactory definition of "objective reality"?

Satisfactory in what way? To you specifically?

Rahvin posted the approved dictionary definition, someone felt it was satisfactory. I liked it myself, I was satisfied.

But something tells me you're looking for something else?

- Oni

Edited by onifre, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by nwr, posted 05-06-2010 10:39 AM nwr has responded

Replies to this message:
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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 9 of 172 (559309)
05-08-2010 1:46 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by onifre
05-08-2010 1:26 PM


Non-Empirical Objective Reality(?)
To try and be fair to Nwr (not something that comes naturally to me given the squirrel brained inanity I have been accusing him of)......

Is mathematics objective? Do mathematical constructs "exist" externally to the minds of those who conceive them?

Rahvin does a good job of accounting for the link between empiricism and objectivity. But can we have non-empirical forms of objectivity?

And if we can does that lend credence to "religious" claims of such objectivity (e.g. multiple experiences of "something" equates to the objectivisation of "something").

Does that make sense? Feel free to ignore or even belittle if not.


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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 10 of 172 (559311)
05-08-2010 1:57 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by cavediver
05-08-2010 4:50 AM


The red pill? Or the blue pill?
What is it that makes the perceived "objective reality" within the Matrix any less objective than that perceived outside the Matrix?

The fact that it isn't "real".

Surely the universe within the Matrix just forms a natural (constructed) extension to our own Universe, and is just as subject to scientific invetsigation from within and without.

If the Matrix is designed to obey programmed laws then I guess the exploration of those laws is "science" in many senses of the word.

I would, for the sake of devils advocacy if nothing else, put it to you that the ultimate aim of science would be to not just understand and explain the laws of the Matrix reality but the understanding of the laws that relate to the reality in which the Matrix itself exists.

The red pill or the blue pill Cavey. Which would you take? Live a self consistent and internally cohernt lie? Or discover and explore the "truth"?

Red? Or blue?

Morpheus in the Matrix writes:

You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and you believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland. And, I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.


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cavediver
Member (Idle past 1721 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


Message 11 of 172 (559313)
05-08-2010 2:09 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Straggler
05-08-2010 1:46 PM


Re: Non-Empirical Objective Reality(?)
Is mathematics objective? Do mathematical constructs "exist" externally to the minds of those who conceive them?

For myself, and many other mathematicians/theoretical physicists - err, of course! Do you really think that alien intelligence will not know of pi, e, i, etc? Now I do not believe in a duality of Platonic and "real world" - for me, it is all the same.


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onifre
Member (Idle past 1028 days)
Posts: 4854
From: Dark Side of the Moon
Joined: 02-20-2008


Message 12 of 172 (559314)
05-08-2010 2:12 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Straggler
05-08-2010 1:46 PM


Re: Non-Empirical Objective Reality(?)
Is mathematics objective? Do mathematical constructs "exist" externally to the minds of those who conceive them?

Well I would say that mathematical constructs are our way to desipher the reality we find ourselves in. In a way that we can all agree on. It exists within our subjective, yet agreed upon, framework of reality. But that which we are trying to figure out is objective, and exists whether we can understand it or not.

But can we have non-empirical forms of objectivity?

And if we can does that lend credence to "religious" claims of such objectivity (e.g. multiple experiences of "something" equates to the objectivisation of "something").

Lets take the religious claim of multiple experiences; all there is empirical evidence for is the experience, and even then you are still left with second hand information. But lets say we plugged them into a machine and pinpointed where exactly in the brain the experience was taking place, that would be objective evidence for an experience.

Now, their interpretation of the experience can only be subjective, by definition.

Likewise, lets take science. A scientist's interpretation of evidence is of course subjective, but the evidence remains objective. If it wasn't then there wouldn't be many other scientist trying to interpret the same evidence.

To me it seems clear how to distinguish the two.

Does that make sense? Feel free to ignore or even belittle if not.

I think it did, and I hope I answered it coherently too.

- Oni


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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 13 of 172 (559315)
05-08-2010 2:13 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by cavediver
05-08-2010 2:09 PM


Re: Non-Empirical Objective Reality(?)
For myself, and many other mathematicians/theoretical physicists - err, of course! Do you really think that alien intelligence will not know of pi, e, i, etc? Now I do not believe in a duality of Platonic and "real world" - for me, it is all the same.

Dude - I spent last night in the pub arguing with my artsy fartsy mates that this was precisely the case. In fact the whole "alien intelligence" thing was the basis of my drunken ramblings in favour of exactly that.

What I need from people like you is an explanation of why I am right


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Rahvin
Member (Idle past 1264 days)
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 14 of 172 (559316)
05-08-2010 2:16 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by cavediver
05-08-2010 4:50 AM


What is it that makes the perceived "objective reality" within the Matrix any less objective than that perceived outside the Matrix?

There is no practical difference, and since a difference that makes no difference is not a difference, we treat the reality we sense as the objective one.

Surely the universe within the Matrix just forms a natural (constructed) extension to our own Universe, and is just as subject to scientific invetsigation from within and without.

The point of the argument is that the Matrix, described as a "dream world," exists only within our minds. To paraphrase the movie itself, if what is "real" is what you can see and taste and touch, then reality is simply electrochemical signals interpreted by our brains.

But objective reality must by definition be that which exists independent of our minds. The Matrix disappears when somebody hits the power switch, or unplugs us. Objective reality is indifferent to our state of mind, our our connection to a giant computer.


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Rahvin
Member (Idle past 1264 days)
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 15 of 172 (559317)
05-08-2010 2:22 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Straggler
05-08-2010 2:13 PM


Re: Non-Empirical Objective Reality(?)
What I need from people like you is an explanation of why I am right

Because mathematical constructs are representations of objective reality. An alien intelligence certainly won't know the term "pi", but they'll undoubtedly know and acknowledge the relationship between the diameter and circumference of a circle.

Mathematics is just language. The symbols and words subjectively represent objective facts. The existence of my cat is objectively real; the word "cat" is a subjective symbol that represents my cat in the mind of anyone who understands English. The word "two" is a subjective representation of a quantity that exists in objective reality.


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