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The Problem of Reality

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The Problem of Reality

As I described in my previous post: The Fabulous World of Pantodragon, my understanding is that life is, to all intents and purposes, a video game. But carry the usual Play Station version forward a little, and think of something more like a flight simulator, or, better, the kind of simulators some trainee-surgeons get to use when learning to do operations. In the latter they wear helmets and gloves so that their senses of sight and hearing, and touch in their hands, are cut off from the real world, and they can only hear, see and touch things in the virtual operating theatre. If the virtual-reality generator was good enough, they should be unable to distinguish between ‘reality’ and ‘virtual reality’.

There are a number of sci-fi films that have explored, and illustrated, this idea. One that comes to mind is ‘EXISTENCE’, in which they have biological video game modules which the players plug into sockets that have been surgically inserted into their spines. When they are plugged into a game the game-data over-rides and blocks anything else coming down their nervous system from their own sense organs and so they experience the game in just the same way as they experience the real world. In other words, they have no way of being able to tell if what they are experiencing is the game world or the real world. The film plays on this confusion.

At the simplest, most obvious level, most people have had dreams such that they have had trouble deciding whether the event of the dream really happened or not, and maybe sometimes they never can decide. I dreamt once that I had gone to the toilet, and I only know that it was a dream because when I woke up I still needed to go to the toilet. How is that possible? Because we literally DO live in virtual-reality worlds.

The fact is that we do not experience the ‘real’ world directly. Take seeing, for example. An image of what one is looking at forms on the back of the eye, and that is then turned into an electrical signal that is sent to the brain. The brain then RECONSTRUCTS the experience of seeing. All the other senses are the same. Everything we experience is a virtual reality constructed by the brain out of the data coming from our senses. So, there really is NO EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF A REAL, CORPOREAL WORLD, no evidence that life is anything more than a dream, and, in fact, what we EXPERIENCE very definitely IS a dream, or virtual reality. One might even go so far as to say that it goes against common sense to suppose that there IS a real, material world, because we have no experience of it – it is just that we have such a long acquaintance with the idea, that we are fed on it from the cradle, that everybody else believes it etc etc. That is what makes it seem so plausible.

So all you have to do to arrive at the total virtual reality version of existence that I have described, is to replace the ‘real world’ with another mind as the source of the information that the mind uses to construct its experience of the world. One might even say it is the ‘simplest’, most obvious assumption, as it leaves us thinking in terms of minds, and thoughts, with which we are familiar, and one does not have to add the extra stuff about material substance – which creates all sorts of problems when one then works backwards and tries to conceptualise what one then means by ‘mind’, and ‘consciousness’ etc.

I mean, we have learned to take the ‘real’ world so ‘for real’ that we, for the most part, have lost sight of the fact that what IS actually ‘real’ for us is our thoughts and sensations and feeling and the like. When I touch something I have the ‘sensation’ of solidity, that is all. If I chose to believe in a real, solid world, then I am postulating that that ‘sensation’ is caused by an object in some real, solid world; I have to actually POSTULATE the existence of a ‘real’ world.

Then I give myself a problem: I know I exist, I have a mind and thoughts, but I now have to ask what they are made of, what are thoughts and how can something as disembodied as thoughts interact with the ‘real’ world. I mean, thoughts are not magnetic, they do not have mass and so on, so how can they interact with physical ‘matter’, for it is by virtue of these properties that objects in the real world interact with one another.

There have been many attempts to solve this conundrum. These range from the proposal that there are two, parallel universes, that of physical reality, and that of mind and thought, and that they, somewhat mysteriously, run synchronously with one another so that they do not have to interact, to the extreme position of denying the existence of mind and thought altogether. To do that one postulates that things like consciousness are merely attributes of the complexity of ‘life chemistry’; ie as molecules and molecular systems get more and more complex, they acquire more and more ‘properties’, more and more abilities, and consciousness is just a property of molecular systems of sufficient complexity.

Although one is tempted to associate this sort of stuff with Rene Descartes, the idea that ‘life is a dream’ goes way back. There are a number, (I do not know how common it was) of so-called primitive tribes or societies that believed that life was a dream. There is even one present day society – I can’t remember which or where – that believes so strongly in dreams that if a person dreams that another man steals some of his cabbages then he can bring a suit against him and the offender will be held liable to pay compensation. This is not daft when one thinks about the interpretability of dreams. If you dream that someone steals something from you then that really did happen; it is just not literally cabbages – I mean, people steal from each other all the time: ideas, or someone might ‘steal your thunder’, or ‘steal the show’ etc. For example, that last might be represented in dreams thus: you might own a ‘show’ such as a fairground, or circus or something, and someone comes along and steals it from you. The person who steals it from you might be someone known to you, or might not, but one should not be literal in one’s interpretation of who the guilty party is.

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Posted

Here are a few thoughts that came up when I read your post. :becky:

The problem is not reality, but our interpretation of it (or maybe that is what you mean), or maybe even a lack of a realization of what is real, thus, the appearance of differing world-views that contradict each other. Are you saying that (Dragons quote) "thoughts and sensations and feeling and the like" are what, so to speak, delivers - or creates reality? It makes more sense to assume reality exists such that a person (body/mind) can consider it (reality).

Why does feeling something with my hand 'make me think or add' the idea of solidity? You are adding stuff that seems to logically follow, but it does not. Read up on Ockham's Razor. What is this solid idea you have asserted? Right? All of it is interpretation, but some interpretations are more accurate than others, as far as being practical and valuable in life.

Dragons quote: "I mean, we have learned to take the ‘real’ world so ‘for real’ that we, for the most part, have lost sight of the fact that what IS actually ‘real’ for us is our thoughts and sensations and feeling and the like. When I touch something I have the ‘sensation’ of solidity, that is all. If I chose to believe in a real, solid world, then I am postulating that that ‘sensation’ is caused by an object in some real, solid world; I have to actually POSTULATE the existence of a ‘real’ world."

One more quote from Dragon: "Then I give myself a problem: I know I exist, I have a mind and thoughts, but I now have to ask what they are made of, what are thoughts and how can something as disembodied as thoughts interact with the ‘real’ world. I mean, thoughts are not magnetic, they do not have mass and so on, so how can they interact with physical ‘matter’, for it is by virtue of these properties that objects in the real world interact with one another."

Thoughts have effects that science can measure. Calling them 'disembodied' makes no sense, who can have thoughts without a body? Saying thoughts are massless, thus cannot interact with physical matter is just wrong on many levels. Ever heard of light?

Do you suppose that dreams and waking life are the same? Consequently, when a person dreams of flying without technical assistance and wakes up and jumps from a building they won't be air born for long, and that scenario usually ends with death, which is not a game or virtual. Ever heard of dying in your sleep means actually dying? I have died plenty of times in my dreams, and consciously allowed or submitted 'myself' to dying and never truly died in the flesh. So, who died? Consider the idea of 'identity'.

You seem to presume that consciousness is an aftermarket effect of the 'chemistry' of the universe. But, I ask you this, how can something that is not inherent in the universe from the beginning or simply inherent in the substance or presence of existence/reality spontaneously exist later?

Baruch Spinoza HERE

Proposition 3: If things have nothing in common with one another, one of them cannot be the cause of the other.

In other words, if consciousness was not inherent in reality from the start, it would not manifest at all in any form ever. What does not exist inherently as a potential of existence or reality, does not exist ever, however, through point of view (a bodily 'point of view') the appearance of reality is in constant change, and therefore, what does not seem to appear now may seem to appear later.

Consider this, existence is consciousness (which then provides the possibility of individual bodily consciousness within the manifest universe), and if anything exists it appears through consciousness, yet, our interpretation of existence, through a bodily point of view, can have all sorts of illusions and misunderstandings associated with it, and it is all based on the individual's interpretations of bodily existence, and if a person bases their life on such and such ideas or philosophy then their life will reflect a conscious relationship with reality that correlates to the philosophy (regardless if that philosophy has any grounds with actual life experience). This brings one back to the idea of 'I think therefore I am'. It goes back to the idea of 'identity'.

What (identity - 'me') remains the same through waking and dreaming? If you say body then I say I can fly and jump from a building and die. :becky:

Some final humble assertions and considerations:

That which IS real is prior and necessary for anything to appear, and any bodily form, regardless of apparent form, that starts thinking about reality is doing that thinking inherently in the midst of Reality ItSelf, or in the midst of what IS real. So, what is Real is not the abstract interpretations of reality we create or the apparent patterns of consciousness we experience, but what is Real is the existence in which beings do such things. Realness begins in the substance not in the after effects of substance, but one cannot dismiss thoughts and so on as not real.

Consider this; in a vacuum virtual particles appear, and cosmic rays pass through the vacuum. So, can the scientist remove existence from the vacuum? Can the scientist empty space of space? We can't make non-existence in the midst of existence; thus, nothing is ever Really separate from what IS Real.

Thoughts can even change one's disposition and conscious relationship the body/mind has with reality and what IS Real, but these things do not make existence any more Real than it already IS. What is Real IS prior to all appearances. Think of it like whirlpools in water, and it would be quite difficult for the whirlpools to realize they are water by only studying the interactions they have with whirlpools only.

Finally,

No matter how much you think about reality, Reality ItSelf will always already exist before the next thought passes through that head of yours. If you are considering Anything, it is because something Real exists in order for that to happen. Peace.

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