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Do We See Reality as it Is? Options
Epiphileon
Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2018 4:32:10 AM

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Recently I was discussing the nature of consciousness with someone, and they brought up this video.

Do We See Reality as it Is?

What do you think?
Hope123
Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2018 10:27:43 PM

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Hi Epi.

I think I'd have to see some of his experiments that he quotes as proof of his "evolutionary theory" that reality becomes extinct. I really don't know enough about the topic of consciousness to have much of an opinion.

The brain does trick us - in one example by filling in what we expect to happen and not what actually happened. Think of a magician's tricks. The eye also has to fill in what we see in the space where the optic nerve blocks the vision. The brain teaches us to have schemas and patterns to help us survive and deal with our environment and sometimes they can go awry. And some folks do seem to be "short on reality" Whistle but it is a big step to say we don't see reality as it is or that it can be made to disappear.

How did your discussion partner fit it into a consciousness discussion? The two ideas on the transcript seem far out, although he says he's exploring the second one.

Here's the transcript link if anyone wants to save time.


https://www.ted.com/talks/donald_hoffman_do_we_see_reality_as_it_is/transcript


Epiphileon
Posted: Friday, June 29, 2018 7:23:22 AM

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Hi Hope, I was a bit surprised the man was given the stage to propagate his notion. I just do not see any credibility at all, it seems like just another leap into esoterica in order to avoid the so called hard problem of consciousness. A problem that I am not convinced exists to begin with.

Just because something could be wrong doesn't mean it is wrong. I also am dubious of reversing mathematical evolutionary models the way he did.

The discussion I was involved in actually began as a freewill discussion, which of course then led to a mention of the physical characteristics of the brain. The other person then said this,
"...and how do I know that the physical brain is not just a perceptual illusion? The only thing I can know exists is my own experience. And when I say that, I'm not referring to the content of my experience, but the experience itself; all experiences are inherently unrealistic (see a cool explanation by Donald Hoffman..."
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, June 29, 2018 8:16:21 AM

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It's all a bit 'esoteric' isn't it?

Yes - of course we don't perceive exactly what the eye sees sometimes - as Hope says, we don't perceive a 'blind-spot' - the mind fills it in.
Also, the eye does not always see what's there. Close your eyes and reach out - you'll feel things there which you don't see.

His theory sounds a bit like the "this universe is just a computer program in my brain - and my brain is just part of the computer program which is in my brain, but that brain is just part of the . . ." conundrum.

The person you were talking to seems to be saying something like "We can't know anything. I know nothing. I probably don't really exist. I'll climb into my own navel and die, thank you."
Epiphileon
Posted: Friday, June 29, 2018 2:14:56 PM

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Yeah Drago, I always come away a bit baffled by people holding such opinions, although he was not quite that extreme, he was well on that side of the spectrum.
Hope123
Posted: Friday, June 29, 2018 8:58:47 PM

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Yeah, he had no proof for his theories.

After finishing several interesting Philosophy courses, I still often wonder at all the machinations and manoeuvres of logic of all philosophers and if they aren't making mountains out of molehills when common sense would answer their questions. But that's just my basic approach to things in general.


Epiphileon
Posted: Saturday, June 30, 2018 7:00:51 AM

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Back in my days at the university apart from logic, it seemed to me that most modern philosophy was mostly intellectual tail swallowing. I still think a lot of it falls in this category; however, I have come to greatly appreciate philosophers like Daniel Dennett, his is a practical philosophy, directly addressing problems like consciousness and freewill, performing detailed dissections of the issues, and what questions need to be answered in order to have an answer that comes closer to an accurate understanding of the issues.

I also think there are some philosophical exercises that everyone needs to perform. How do I know that I know what I know? I fell like everyone should either read Descartes treatment of this issue, or somehow follow the same basic steps that led him to doubt everything he thought he knew, and learn how to qualify what is reliable knowledge.

I even think that question like is the universe a simulation are useful to some. I have explored the question for the pure fascination of such a conjecture but, I see no practical reason to spend a great deal of time on it. In my opinion it can not possibly matter.

Is reality reasonable, and practically, as it appears to be to us? Yes, this question I feel has been adequately answered, pursuing it results in intellectual tail swallowing.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Sunday, July 1, 2018 12:32:04 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:
I see no practical reason to spend a great deal of time on it. In my opinion it can not possibly matter.

Yes.

Though some philosophical meanderings are interesting, most don't really matter.

If a theory can be used (extrapolated) to produce some betterment in society or individuals' lives, then it is a valid theory. Possibly it is not a true fact - but it is a 'workable theory'.

**************
Another illustration of how consciousness of (or perception of) the environment works is reading.

Most of us have had experience of reading a sentence and understanding it perfectly - then later finding out that it does not actually make sense; there was a glaring typing error which our 'perception' corrected before we even saw it.

An illustration of how our minds actually use visual stimuli and our own expectations to 'create' the image which we see.

Blaidd-Drwg
Posted: Sunday, July 1, 2018 1:34:54 PM

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This stuff is discussed at length in college dorms over a few beers and/or a couple of tokes, but I agree with Drag0 that the questions are interesting but don't really matter.

However, synesthesia and similar neurological issues seem to add weight to the question. If people can see sound and music what does that say about what the rest of us see? If humans colonize space and evolve to the point that we are able to see gravity waves, dark matter or gamma radiation (all things that are we cannot touch or feel) how will that affect our reality?
Suren Naiker
Posted: Monday, July 30, 2018 12:14:18 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:
Recently I was discussing the nature of consciousness with someone, and they brought up this video.

Do We See Reality as it Is?

What do you think?


Love Ted talks, thanks for posting link.. I have an interest in exploring what conciousness is, have considered it to be an extra dimension like time and space. Do think that over time [a few centuries hence] that it will unravel itself, and there is always the possibility that we may develop the ability to create this capacity of awareness, emotions, reality in the artificial intelligence that is so rapidly advancing. Our own conciousness is the result of the way our senses and brain interact with the world and we are a composition of atoms, molecules, cells etc. Cogito, ergo sum - as Rene Descartes said " I think, therefore I am"....
Suren Naiker


FounDit
Posted: Monday, July 30, 2018 7:59:44 PM

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The question of whether this experience we are all having is real has always seemed like a non-starter to me. We evaluate this experience through our senses and we call it reality. To examine the idea of something else that is different from this brings the possibility of an “Other”.

But how would we evaluate that “Other”? We can’t use our senses because, if this isn’t real, and we evaluate the reality of it through our senses, they would be a useless mechanism to use in evaluating the “Other”. We can’t even use our tools, since they are an extension of our senses.

We would be evaluating the “Other”, the real (assuming it exists), using senses born of the unreal; we would be judging using tools of the unreal, which we couldn’t trust, in evaluating the real. Ultimately, I think this is as real as it gets for us.
leonAzul
Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 2018 10:32:01 PM

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FounDit wrote:
The question of whether this experience we are all having is real has always seemed like a non-starter to me. We evaluate this experience through our senses and we call it reality. To examine the idea of something else that is different from this brings the possibility of an “Other”.

But how would we evaluate that “Other”? We can’t use our senses because, if this isn’t real, and we evaluate the reality of it through our senses, they would be a useless mechanism to use in evaluating the “Other”. We can’t even use our tools, since they are an extension of our senses.

We would be evaluating the “Other”, the real (assuming it exists), using senses born of the unreal; we would be judging using tools of the unreal, which we couldn’t trust, in evaluating the real. Ultimately, I think this is as real as it gets for us.


I'm sincerely glad that this question is a non-starter for you. Such a response means that you are neurologically healthy and normal.

Yet I would point out that at least once in your life you have experienced a vivid dream, a dream so vivid that you emotionally responded to it as if it were real. That would be because you are neurologically healthy and normal.



Kirill Vorobyov
Posted: Wednesday, August 1, 2018 8:33:58 AM

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Why is a dream less real than what we experience when we're awake? Because a dream is individual experience, nobody else is part of it, and nobody else except the dreamer can "see" and "sense" it.

In my view, the reality is not necessarily anything we sense. What we call the reality is this world that we all share. So I'm not the only one who senses this chair beside me, other people do too.

The nature of this "real" world is probably as virtual as that of a dream, according to last scientific data, but, as others have said, in practical terms it doesn't matter as long we're alive.
Absinthius
Posted: Wednesday, August 1, 2018 10:43:13 AM

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Perhaps I'm too weird in my thinking, but whatevs, fun to muse.

The way I see, reality is the way things are regardless of perception or senses. It is an absolute that exists outside of any individual or group.

Our senses allow us to internalize some of the information in order for us to make an approximate guess, or interpretation of reality. As with any kind knowledge gathering repeated and shared observations results in an increased confidence that our perceptions are accurate (though not necessarily complete). So perceptions that we share and are repeatable are generally considered more real that personal, unshared ones.

Now regardless of whether what we experience is actually real, we can use incomplete and inaccurate information to define our actions, which will in turn become part of reality. If we see a stick from the corner of our eye and we back away because evolutionarily we are triggered to assume the worst case scenario (something like a venomous snake or an undercooked churro), our impulse is real even though the churro wasn't. So apart from uncertain perceptions of reality we can also be the driving force in creating it, making it so that we are very sure of what is real.

No idea if this makes any sense, but it's fun to think about anyway.
FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, August 1, 2018 11:57:54 PM

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leonAzul wrote:
FounDit wrote:
The question of whether this experience we are all having is real has always seemed like a non-starter to me. We evaluate this experience through our senses and we call it reality. To examine the idea of something else that is different from this brings the possibility of an “Other”.

But how would we evaluate that “Other”? We can’t use our senses because, if this isn’t real, and we evaluate the reality of it through our senses, they would be a useless mechanism to use in evaluating the “Other”. We can’t even use our tools, since they are an extension of our senses.

We would be evaluating the “Other”, the real (assuming it exists), using senses born of the unreal; we would be judging using tools of the unreal, which we couldn’t trust, in evaluating the real. Ultimately, I think this is as real as it gets for us.


I'm sincerely glad that this question is a non-starter for you. Such a response means that you are neurologically healthy and normal.

Yet I would point out that at least once in your life you have experienced a vivid dream, a dream so vivid that you emotionally responded to it as if it were real. That would be because you are neurologically healthy and normal.

Right. And I experienced and evaluated the dream with the same senses I use in everyday life, so my reality says dreams are a part of this reality.




Hope123
Posted: Thursday, August 2, 2018 9:23:47 AM

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Absinthius wrote: The way I see, reality is the way things are regardless of perception or senses. It is an absolute that exists outside of any individual or group.

Your post makes perfect sense to me Absinthius.
leonAzul
Posted: Saturday, August 4, 2018 10:05:16 AM

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FounDit wrote:
leonAzul wrote:
FounDit wrote:
The question of whether this experience we are all having is real has always seemed like a non-starter to me. We evaluate this experience through our senses and we call it reality. To examine the idea of something else that is different from this brings the possibility of an “Other”.

But how would we evaluate that “Other”? We can’t use our senses because, if this isn’t real, and we evaluate the reality of it through our senses, they would be a useless mechanism to use in evaluating the “Other”. We can’t even use our tools, since they are an extension of our senses.

We would be evaluating the “Other”, the real (assuming it exists), using senses born of the unreal; we would be judging using tools of the unreal, which we couldn’t trust, in evaluating the real. Ultimately, I think this is as real as it gets for us.


I'm sincerely glad that this question is a non-starter for you. Such a response means that you are neurologically healthy and normal.

Yet I would point out that at least once in your life you have experienced a vivid dream, a dream so vivid that you emotionally responded to it as if it were real. That would be because you are neurologically healthy and normal.

Right. And I experienced and evaluated the dream with the same senses I use in everyday life, so my reality says dreams are a part of this reality.



I would sincerely hope not. Dreams are informed by memory, not direct perception. There are several types of parasomnia that conflate senses with memories.
Think
FounDit
Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2018 12:41:37 PM

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leonAzul wrote:
FounDit wrote:
leonAzul wrote:
FounDit wrote:
The question of whether this experience we are all having is real has always seemed like a non-starter to me. We evaluate this experience through our senses and we call it reality. To examine the idea of something else that is different from this brings the possibility of an “Other”.

But how would we evaluate that “Other”? We can’t use our senses because, if this isn’t real, and we evaluate the reality of it through our senses, they would be a useless mechanism to use in evaluating the “Other”. We can’t even use our tools, since they are an extension of our senses.

We would be evaluating the “Other”, the real (assuming it exists), using senses born of the unreal; we would be judging using tools of the unreal, which we couldn’t trust, in evaluating the real. Ultimately, I think this is as real as it gets for us.


I'm sincerely glad that this question is a non-starter for you. Such a response means that you are neurologically healthy and normal.

Yet I would point out that at least once in your life you have experienced a vivid dream, a dream so vivid that you emotionally responded to it as if it were real. That would be because you are neurologically healthy and normal.

Right. And I experienced and evaluated the dream with the same senses I use in everyday life, so my reality says dreams are a part of this reality.



I would sincerely hope not. Dreams are informed by memory, not direct perception. There are several types of parasomnia that conflate senses with memories.
Think

You mean you don't want dreams to be a part of my reality?...Acck!..Sick

Seriously, however, I would say that since dreams are informed by memory, and since my memory is informed by my senses, my dreams are experienced with the same senses — as stated...So there...Whistle

Absinthius
Posted: Monday, August 6, 2018 4:14:45 AM

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FounDit wrote:


Seriously, however, I would say that since dreams are informed by memory, and since my memory is informed by my senses, my dreams are experienced with the same senses — as stated...So there...Whistle



That's trying a bit too hard mate. Being informed by something and experiencing something isn't the same thing.

The fact that Harrison Ford ran away from that huge boulder in that one movie can trigger a dream in you where you feel like you are in that same situation. Fear and everything. Doesn't mean your senses ever really experienced running away from a huge boulder though.
FounDit
Posted: Monday, August 6, 2018 10:34:58 AM

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Absinthius wrote:
FounDit wrote:


Seriously, however, I would say that since dreams are informed by memory, and since my memory is informed by my senses, my dreams are experienced with the same senses — as stated...So there...Whistle



That's trying a bit too hard mate. Being informed by something and experiencing something isn't the same thing.

The fact that Harrison Ford ran away from that huge boulder in that one movie can trigger a dream in you where you feel like you are in that same situation. Fear and everything. Doesn't mean your senses ever really experienced running away from a huge boulder though.


It seems to me that you are now trying a bit too hard, friend. It is the experience of something that provides the information, informs, the memory/dream.

The fear is the same sense whether running from an imaginary boulder in a dream, or a real one. It is the experience of fear that informs both memories and dreams, which are composed from memories and imagination, and in both cases is the same sense.
Absinthius
Posted: Monday, August 6, 2018 11:42:22 AM

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Lets define some words here shall we?!

We have the 5 senses (sight, smell, taste, sound and tactile feeling). These senses are what we (any living creature) use to scan and gain information on the world around us.

Then we have our experiences, this how we interpret the information available to us. These experiences are largely influenced by our brain chemistry and can lead us to feel a plethora of amazing things such as love, fear, anxiety and much much more. Confusion is also one of them, so don't worry FD! All is well.

Senses and experiences are not the same thing, the discussion in this topic can be boiled down to: Is the information provided by our senses sufficient to ensure that our experiences are an accurate representation of reality.

Now, dreams. Dreams are little more than a succession of possible interpretations that our brains produce, such as images, sounds, ideas, emotions and even sensations. These parts of information do generally not come directly from one of our 5 senses. (As a little fun fact though, this sometimes does happen! Have you ever dreamt like you were on the toilet and then 'let go'? This is your body using actual senses, combined with memories and your natural reaction to make you hallucinate you are actually in the bathroom. The result is uncomfortable! But considering this is the exception rather than the rule, let's dismiss this for now.) As with any information we get during waking hours, our brains are trained to try and make sense of it all. The same is true when dreaming. So even though your dreams might make sense to you, their basis is not your sensing of reality. This makes it so that dreams are much less representative of reality as our interpretations during waking hours.

Now I know you will never admit to the possibility that perhaps someone else has a valid point. But feel free to secretly learn something. Just come back with some unpleasant ad hominem or quip to let me know you have tried to absorb some information and to make sure you 'safe face'. I'll interpret it in my own way! Whistle
Romany
Posted: Monday, August 6, 2018 1:03:22 PM
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Progpen - Yes, I know it was a long way up the page, but a propos to your "college dorms" reference and Drago and Leon's "not mattering":

When I went back to Uni the second time I was battling to bring up 4 teenage boys on my own; had lived through a war; my mother died - etc.etc.etc. This time round (Unlike when I was 18) I had a lot of real-world(!) problems. And at the end of my first year of Philosophy I was...well not bored but, I guess, impatient. There was so much in my life that needed seeing to that this felt like indulgent time-wasting. My Lecturer also told me he was bitterly disapointed in me - so we parted ways.(And took up The Bible.Fact or Fiction? instead which led me down many different paths and was a brilliant decision.)

So what I was getting at was that although it may not seem worth it, we usually come up against the co-dependent Logic/Philosophy courses before we've made the full transition into adulthood. It is, I would think, more like "training for the mind" than learning immutable truths. It's the techniques it gives you; the introduction to other viewpoints. It's the first time we venture out of our own minds and into someone else's - whether they be a long-dead Greek or the guy with the pimples next to you that you'd thought was a bit of a twit before.

I'm glad I did that First Year course because it taught me so much more about presenting ideas, and marshalling logical sequences. And not saying "Y'know!" And listening. Truly listening to what other people are saying.

I never understood why my parents called it "navel gazing" when I was 18. I had to wait a good few years to understand that. And though there is no way I have given up my days of sitting discussing things till the sun is coming up (In fact did it with prior strangers this Saturday night) I find that the nature of those discussions are usually much more vibrant as one experiences life than when one was just starting out?
Y111
Posted: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 12:22:25 AM
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Absinthius wrote:
Now I know you will never admit to the possibility that perhaps someone else has a valid point. But feel free to secretly learn something. Just come back with some unpleasant ad hominem or quip to let me know you have tried to absorb some information and to make sure you 'safe face'. I'll interpret it in my own way! Whistle

That spoiled all you had said before. Looks like you can't stand a different opinion.
Lotje1000
Posted: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 2:32:36 AM

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Hi Absinthius! I like what you explained about dreams and experience/senses, I'd just like to add to it.

Five is the traditional number, but we actually have more senses than that (like a sense of time passing, a sense of balance, a sense that lets us know where our extremities are...).

Now, about our sense of sight, it turns out that what we pick up through our eyes is only a small fraction and much of what we "see" is actually information that the brain fills in on its own accord. For instance, when you move your eyes to scan a room, your eyes only pick up loose snippets of still images and your brain fills in the rest based on what it knows or what it has seen before. This also explains why you can completely miss some new information, like those people who get into a car crash and swear up and down they did not see the other car even though they specifically looked for it. (For anyone interested, there is a great episode of the Infinite Monkey Cage podcast about this!)

Now, to bring it back to the subject of dreams: They're a creation of the brain. We're so used to always getting sensory input through the eyes that if that input stops, the brain will start to fill things in. Obviously there is more influencing things, but it is a large part of why we can see such vivid imagery. It is also why we're pretty good at daydreaming as when we imagine things in our mind's eye, it activates the same regions of the brain as when we're looking at something.

It's a bit of a long-winded way for me to say, I agree, Absinthius: Our senses are part of how we define reality, but they're not everything, as that input gets interpreted and added to by our brain (and its chemistry). Our brain will fill in the gaps, even when it's annoying for us, like when we're trying to remember something. For that reason, our memories can be very unreliable, even though it all comes from what we would say is reliable sensory input. So if our brain and our memories are unreliable narrators of reality, dreams most certainly are.
Epiphileon
Posted: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 5:13:04 AM

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FounDit wrote:
The question of whether this experience we are all having is real has always seemed like a non-starter to me.


LeonAzul wrote:
I'm sincerely glad that this question is a non-starter for you. Such a response means that you are neurologically healthy and normal.


I think it is a legitimate question, I even think it is one that must be asked by anyone who wants to ground their epistemology in first principles; however, what I object to is spending an inordinate amount of time or energy trying to get a definite answer. What I object even more vehemently to is the notion that because we have no way to get an absolute answer to the question that we can therefore conclude that no knowledge is trustworthy, or even worse that inability gives us license to make up woo-woo* descriptions of what reality "really is".d'oh! Shame on you

*woo-woo: dubiously or outlandishly mystical, supernatural, or unscientific
Absinthius
Posted: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 7:01:26 AM

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Lotje1000 wrote:
Five is the traditional number, but we actually have more senses than that (like a sense of time passing, a sense of balance, a sense that lets us know where our extremities are...).

An interesting addition, I think these examples are still up for debate though. The 5 classic senses that I mentioned earlier all take direct cues from from the world around us. Either by small chemicals binding to receptors, outside material forces putting tactile stress on our cells, photons giving small energy pulses to receptors or vibrations transferring motion to sensitive bone-structures in our ears.

A sense of balance uses both sight and the same fine bone structures in our ears, but balance itself is something we experience rather than sense. An example of this is car sickness, where our senses register something that we find difficult to interpret. So I would consider balance somewhere between senses and experience.

The sense of us knowing where our extremities are is a fun one! Perhaps you have seen videos of someone having a fake arm in front of them and having a screen obstructing vision of the real arm next to it. Apart from entertainment value, this also provides clear data on how easily we are fooled as to where and what exactly our own extermities are. My hypothesis on this (no research done) would be that this is also something our brain concludes from visual and tactile cues.

As for our sense of time, the more I think about it the more it confuses me. So I'll just conveniently skip over this one in the hope that you won't notice. Whistle

Lotje1000 wrote:
Now, about our sense of sight, it turns out that what we pick up through our eyes is only a small fraction and much of what we "see" is actually information that the brain fills in on its own accord. For instance, when you move your eyes to scan a room, your eyes only pick up loose snippets of still images and your brain fills in the rest based on what it knows or what it has seen before. This also explains why you can completely miss some new information, like those people who get into a car crash and swear up and down they did not see the other car even though they specifically looked for it. (For anyone interested, there is a great episode of the Infinite Monkey Cage podcast about this!)

Exactly! That is my point entirely. The receptors in our eyes get triggered by light of different wavelengths. It is all up to our brain to make sense of it all, to make the best guess or estimation of what reality possibly is. There is a strong point to make that our entire experience is one big hallucination. 'We' are our brains, but our brains dont sense anything, it outsources the information gathering to our senses. So eveything we experience is little more than our brains best attempt to make sense of it all.

Lotje1000 wrote:
Now, to bring it back to the subject of dreams: They're a creation of the brain. We're so used to always getting sensory input through the eyes that if that input stops, the brain will start to fill things in. Obviously there is more influencing things, but it is a large part of why we can see such vivid imagery. It is also why we're pretty good at daydreaming as when we imagine things in our mind's eye, it activates the same regions of the brain as when we're looking at something.

It's a bit of a long-winded way for me to say, I agree, Absinthius: Our senses are part of how we define reality, but they're not everything, as that input gets interpreted and added to by our brain (and its chemistry). Our brain will fill in the gaps, even when it's annoying for us, like when we're trying to remember something. For that reason, our memories can be very unreliable, even though it all comes from what we would say is reliable sensory input. So if our brain and our memories are unreliable narrators of reality, dreams most certainly are.

Fully agree.
Absinthius
Posted: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 7:39:40 AM

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To just muse a bit more on our sense of time.

This is how far I got:
For anything to be able to happen, it requires time. The only way a situation can change is when there are at least two states of being which are separated by time (I'm sure quantum physics disagrees, but I'm not even going to prentend to understand any of that mumbo jumbo). So the way we can perceive time is by witnessing something happening. So for example if we see things move, or the pallet of sounds we experience changes. When we experience these changes, we know time has passed by. By this logic, time would be a conclusion rather than something we sense directly.

Apart from this hypothesis, I really can't think of another way we would be able to directly sense time. I cant find a way to think of it as being anything physical that can stimulate any kind or receptor.
sufall
Posted: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 11:27:58 AM

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Just wanted to share an experience(?) of a friend of mine, related to senses and dreams, hope you all find it amusing :)

On a winter night, she was hearing a loud noise in her dream and she was thinking that this is the sound from the radiators in the room, evidence(?) of the central heating system pumping at maximum capacity. So in her dream she was happy about this sound because it meant the room was warm. Then her husband woke her up, asking how she was able to sleep with this loud noise coming from the concrete breakers outside!

(Of course, the real question here is why there was road repair work so late!)
FounDit
Posted: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 1:16:10 PM

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Absinthius wrote:
Lets define some words here shall we?!

We have the 5 senses (sight, smell, taste, sound and tactile feeling). These senses are what we (any living creature) use to scan and gain information on the world around us.
I agree, and this is the position I hold as to how reality is interpreted.

Then we have our experiences, this how we interpret the information available to us. These experiences are largely influenced by our brain chemistry and can lead us to feel a plethora of amazing things such as love, fear, anxiety and much much more. Confusion is also one of them, so don't worry FD! All is well.
Umm, not sure I can agree with this. You say our experiences are how we interpret the information available to us, but two people can have the same experience, but interpret it differently. Then how it is interpreted leads to a reaction. That reaction is defined at an emotion, but emotions do not exist as discreet things, they are merely reactions to an experience.

For example, two people may fall overboard from a boat into the water. One can swim, the other cannot. Both experience the same fall, but one may react with calm while the other may react with terror. The reactions are the emotional responses and are described as calm and terror.

But the experience cannot be processed without the senses. So my conclusion is that what we call reality cannot be described or experienced without the senses. So the senses come first. Without them we can experience nothing. The two people in the example who, having absolutely no senses, will both die, but have no way to evaluate the experience.

Senses and experiences are not the same thing, the discussion in this topic can be boiled down to: Is the information provided by our senses sufficient to ensure that our experiences are an accurate representation of reality.
And my argument is that the senses are the ONLY vehicle through which we can define what we call reality. Therefore, if this is not reality, we have no way to define any other.

Now, dreams. Dreams are little more than a succession of possible interpretations that our brains produce, such as images, sounds, ideas, emotions and even sensations. These parts of information do generally not come directly from one of our 5 senses. (As a little fun fact though, this sometimes does happen! Have you ever dreamt like you were on the toilet and then 'let go'? This is your body using actual senses, combined with memories and your natural reaction to make you hallucinate you are actually in the bathroom. The result is uncomfortable! But considering this is the exception rather than the rule, let's dismiss this for now.) As with any information we get during waking hours, our brains are trained to try and make sense of it all. The same is true when dreaming. So even though your dreams might make sense to you, their basis is not your sensing of reality. This makes it so that dreams are much less representative of reality as our interpretations during waking hours.
Now here, I disagree. Dreams are merely parts of what we define as our reality. Dreams don't have to be the same as waking experiences, but they are an extension of those waking experiences, as your example shows. Since they are made up of things our senses reveal to us, they are a part of this sensate reality.

Now I know you will never admit to the possibility that perhaps someone else has a valid point. But feel free to secretly learn something. Just come back with some unpleasant ad hominem or quip to let me know you have tried to absorb some information and to make sure you 'safe face'. I'll interpret it in my own way! Whistle
I guess you missed my post in When Will Jesus Return where I changed my opinion and agree with Epiphileon's opinion as to the source of belief in gods and religions. I'm am happy to change my mind and agree with anyone who presents a valid, logical argument for a position I don't currently hold.

It's even sometimes fun and interesting to discuss topics wherein both sides cannot be proved, but are simply pleasant to discuss. Unfortunately, it too often occurs that one side or the other feels compelled to force their belief onto others. We see that a lot in the politics section. I can only assume, based on your last statements, that since I hold my opinions to be as valid as any other in that section, you believe I cannot change. That would be an erroneous assumption.

Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, August 8, 2018 4:05:26 AM

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Absinthius wrote:
Senses and experiences are not the same thing, the discussion in this topic can be boiled down to: Is the information provided by our senses sufficient to ensure that our experiences are an accurate representation of reality.

If I've understood you correctly Absinthius I would pretty much agree with you. Senses and experiences are indeed very far from being the same thing. Senses are the transduction of physical stimuli into neuronal signaling, that signaling is processed into perceptions, and the combination of all perceptions combined with individual differences in psychological variables, leads to the experience of what we call reality.

Part of the problem is that we tend by default to define reality as that experience, and because that experience seems so ephemeral, people will accept that reality is ephemeral. If reality was ephemeral, and as subject to subjectivity as some would maintain, science could not possibly work, hell the universe itself could not work.

I have never found any reasonable way to doubt that there is something that is "out there", that it is consistent in its nature no matter who, or even what, is observing it; however, what each of us carries around in our heads is a model of that reality, and we know it is not a perfect model. Reliable and predictable, (for the most part), yes but also subject to error at the most basic levels. Descartes showed that even raw sensory input sometimes deceives, our senses report that the stick thrust into a pool of water most certainly bends. Mach Bands are another example of how reality is not exactly what we perceive, and there are many more examples involving nearly all the other senses. However, the stick can be shown to not bend, a photometer shows the error of Mach Bands, and innumerable other methods have been developed to gain an ever more accurate description of reality.

Quote:
Is the information provided by our senses sufficient to ensure that our experiences are an accurate representation of reality?

No they are not, but we figured that out, and have developed ways to get around it, and have also learned how ubiquitous the fallibility of subjectivity actually is. Absolute certainty is an impossibility; however, we do not need absolute certainty, what we need is a method for interpreting reality in the most accurate way possible, that we may adapt our behavior to the most successful survival strategies possible.




Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, August 8, 2018 4:28:02 AM

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This whole issue of dreams highlights one of the points I made to Absinthius, and where I see part of the problem in such discussions.
Quote:
I have never found any reasonable way to doubt that there is something that is "out there", that it is consistent in its nature no matter who, or even what, is observing it; however, what each of us carries around in our heads is a model of that reality... (and from earlier in that post) Part of the problem is that we tend by default to define reality as that experience (model)...


Dreams are only a reality in as much as our minds are a part of reality, and the models of reality that we experience are as well, but they are not part of objective reality only fabrications within our minds, they are entirely subjective.

I think we would have been much better served if we had two words for these, the model vs the actual; however, I doubt that is likely to happen.
FounDit
Posted: Wednesday, August 8, 2018 12:12:00 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:
This whole issue of dreams highlights one of the points I made to Absinthius, and where I see part of the problem in such discussions.
Quote:
I have never found any reasonable way to doubt that there is something that is "out there", that it is consistent in its nature no matter who, or even what, is observing it; however, what each of us carries around in our heads is a model of that reality... (and from earlier in that post) Part of the problem is that we tend by default to define reality as that experience (model)...

I think you are right, but we have no choice, really. In the same way 6 billion amoebas view reality according to the information their sense convey to them, 6 billion humans also view reality according to our sensory information.

Dreams are only a reality in as much as our minds are a part of reality, and the models of reality that we experience are as well, but they are not part of objective reality only fabrications within our minds, they are entirely subjective.
Right, but we have no way of experiencing any objective reality apart from our sensory-created subjective world.

I think we would have been much better served if we had two words for these, the model vs the actual; however, I doubt that is likely to happen.

That would be nice, but we have no way to describe the actual if it is different from the model.
Epiphileon
Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2018 5:35:34 AM

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FounDit wrote:
Right, but we have no way of experiencing any objective reality apart from our sensory-created subjective world.


This is a rather tricky assertion that I'm not sure I can go along with. The illusion of Mach Bands* can be known for the illusion they are through the use of a photometer. If Mach Bands were real there would be 4 readings as the sensor traveled from an area of light to dark; however, it will show only two. Although there is nothing we can do about how we experience them at a sensory level, we can know that they are not really there, and therefore, cognitively experience reality as it is rather than how it merely appears. Think


*Illusory bands of intensified lightness and darkness perceived adjacent to the borders of light and dark in a visual image, caused by image processing in the retina and optic nerve.

Hope123
Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2018 10:23:55 AM

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Epi, it seems we are talking about personal reality and not the reality scientists see with their quantum physics. Even some of that is unknowable as they don't understand it all.

But as I looked at your post this morning, and at the OP question " do we see reality as it is", I thought that I see my reality only too well. 😳

However, a similar idea to your Mach bands and other illusions we've all seen - after we had our condo painted and I looked at the corners of two painted walls where they met, I swore the painter had left a line unpainted. It is just an illusion. Also, it is the exact same color on both walls but they appear to be different hues.

The main way artists show depth and perspective in a painting is through the use of light and dark values and colours.

But as you say, we still can know the painting is flat and that parallel train tracks never meet in the distance even if it looks that way. The brain has to interpret the senses through knowledge and memory.

We change our minds all the time so there would be no consistency if reality depended wholly upon constructions in our minds from sensory input. We would go crazy if the basics of reality changed from day to day or minute to minute as our experiences occur. We also verify reality with others, although we can never actually have the same perceptions through their senses.

But does it really matter if the blue sky I see is the same blue sky you see?

:::

I have always been interested in our fantastic senses and how they work. And as I age, unfortunately, and like others, I am finding out about all the weird things that can go wrong that I had never heard of before. 😀 Ever hear of map dot dystrophy? I hadn't. It makes beautiful halos around colours at night.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/making-sense-world-sveral-senses-at-time/

We use all senses at once and there are all kinds of tests where people hear a different word depending upon the shape of the mouth, when it is the same word. People guess tastes wrong when influenced by colour. People with synesthesia have different perceptions when their senses mesh together.


FounDit
Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2018 10:46:31 AM

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Epiphileon wrote:
FounDit wrote:
Right, but we have no way of experiencing any objective reality apart from our sensory-created subjective world.


This is a rather tricky assertion that I'm not sure I can go along with. The illusion of Mach Bands* can be known for the illusion they are through the use of a photometer. If Mach Bands were real there would be 4 readings as the sensor traveled from an area of light to dark; however, it will show only two. Although there is nothing we can do about how we experience them at a sensory level, we can know that they are not really there, and therefore, cognitively experience reality as it is rather than how it merely appears. Think


*Illusory bands of intensified lightness and darkness perceived adjacent to the borders of light and dark in a visual image, caused by image processing in the retina and optic nerve.


Machines may tell us something our senses cannot detect, but my initial assertion remains true in spite of that: we have no way to experience it apart from our senses. The Mach bands may not exist, but our senses say they do.

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