Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.
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RJG
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Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by RJG » June 7th, 2018, 9:27 pm

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Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Next time you board a plane, take a window seat. After you get settled in, peer out the porthole window. Now try to imagine that this porthole is your ONLY connection to reality; in other words, imagine that this porthole is your own private, personal view of reality. Now, as you look out through this porthole, do you see those baggage and food service people loading the plane?, ...are they 'real'?

Side note: 'real' is defined here as that which exists with 'certainty'; independent of one's perceivings.

Almost automatically (and maybe a bit belligerently) most of us would say "Don't be absurd, of course they're real!". ...especially since we just saw them in (so-called) "real life" while boarding the plane! Okay, okay, but now, try to imagine that you have ALWAYS existed behind this porthole, and have NEVER-EVER experienced the world outside this porthole. ...are you still as certain?

Tap on the glass, ...is there something that separates 'you', from those 'objects' out there?

Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Eduk
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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by Eduk » June 8th, 2018, 3:46 am

Under such circumstances then I'm sure you would question their reality. Being trapped and ignored on a plane would likely be very damaging, not to mention lack of teaching and subsequent lack of brain development.
However if it is a question of trust in our perceptions then I think I can answer to some extent.
When I was learning to walk the concept of trust in my perception never occurred to me. I simply did the best I could. Over time I learned to balance and not fall and hurt myself. I learned to move and reach a target, etc etc. If my perception of reality in no way matched reality then the reality of never reaching my goal and always being bruised may never occur to me but I would not flourish.
As I grow more sophisticated I can measure reality using various tools. These then demonstrate where my perception fails me and I can adjust, this is a process.

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ThomasHobbes
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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by ThomasHobbes » June 8th, 2018, 3:54 am

Not always.
But since our perceptions are all we have, we inevitably construct our realities from those perceptions and the interpretations of them that we are given and develop.
This is unavoidable.
The alternative is locking yourself in a dark box, sound proof, temperature proof... better still - cut all nervous connections to the brain, and then you will be free of those perceptions.
I would not recommend that course of action.
The minimum you would have to perceive is your own heartbeat. Can you trust that?

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Father
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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by Father » June 9th, 2018, 6:51 pm

This is sort of similar to a question I have been asking myself lately: Say you have a green cube sitting on a table in front of you. It’s about four inches tall, four inches wide and four inches deep. This cube would be “real”. You could push it on the table, pick it up, throw it across the room, etc... Now say that someone had a way to alter your mind in any way they chose, making another green cube appear on the table. This green cube would be “fake”, just a hallucination, even though it would have exactly the same characteristics as the other green cube on the table (touch taste smell etc...). When you pushed it it would move the same way as the “real” cube, when you picked it up you would feel it’s weight, and when you threw it it would travel through the air exactly like the “real” cube. So is it really fake? And, if not, is reality just defined by the mind of the individual?

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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by JamesOfSeattle » June 9th, 2018, 9:28 pm

We can trust our perceptions to tell us what’s real to the extent that our perceptions let us predict the results of our actions. So for Father’s scenario, both cubes are equally real until we interact with someone else who thinks there is only one cube. The more people who say there is only one cube, the more credence we give to the proposition that one of the cubes is not real.

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LuckyR
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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by LuckyR » June 10th, 2018, 2:49 am

Perception is only half of the perception/intellect continuum. Everyone is familiar with optical illusions and sleight of hand and CGI, so we "know" more than we can perceive.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by RJG » June 10th, 2018, 12:09 pm

Eduk wrote:If my perception of reality in no way matched reality then the reality of never reaching my goal and always being bruised may never occur to me but I would not flourish.
Didn't you just perceive "reaching your goal", and perceive "being bruised"? And therefore aren't these are just more perceptions?

Father wrote:So is it really fake? And, if not, is reality just defined by the mind of the individual?
ThomasHobbes wrote:But since our perceptions are all we have, we inevitably construct our realities from those perceptions and the interpretations of them that we are given and develop.
If our perceptions are "all we have", then is it possible to know (the 'real') reality?

JamesOfSeattle wrote:We can trust our perceptions to tell us what’s real to the extent that our perceptions let us predict the results of our actions.
But aren't the perceivings of our "actions" and the "results of our actions" just MORE perceptions?

LuckyR wrote:Perception is only half of the perception/intellect continuum. Everyone is familiar with optical illusions and sleight of hand and CGI, so we "know" more than we can perceive.
But aren't these "knowings" (i.e. the perceivings of our perceptions) still again just perceptions themselves?

********

Perceptions cannot logically vouch for themselves, and therefore cannot be trusted to tell us what's real.

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The table that I 'perceive' in front of me, may be a 'real' object. I can only perceive my 'perceptions' (mental impressions) of this supposed object. But this does not mean that the table does 'not' exist. I may be dreaming/hallucinating, or my perceptions may be spot on, and accurately represent the 'real' table. In either case (real or not-real) I have no way of perceiving beyond my perceptions to know if my perceptions are lying to me.

All I know is what my perceptions tell me, and therefore have NO WAY to vouch for the truthfulness of these perceptions.
Last edited by RJG on June 10th, 2018, 4:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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RJG
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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by RJG » June 10th, 2018, 12:39 pm

And furthermore, claiming that our perceptions are of 'real' things because our 'perceptions' tell us so, is non-sensical; (not logically sound). (Example: the ghost that I experienced last night told me he was real, therefore the ghost is real -- is not logically sound, nor rationally valid).

Perceptions cannot logically vouch for themselves, and therefore cannot be trusted to tell us what's real.

I suspect that most people believe their perceptions are of real things because of a life long of indoctrination, ...even though there is absolutely no rational justification to believe such.

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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by ThomasHobbes » June 10th, 2018, 3:56 pm

RJG wrote:
June 10th, 2018, 12:09 pm
ThomasHobbes wrote:But since our perceptions are all we have, we inevitably construct our realities from those perceptions and the interpretations of them that we are given and develop.
If our perceptions are "all we have", then is it possible to know (the 'real') reality?
Who says the "real" reality is a meaningful idea, or achievable?
Surely such an idea is a myth by those who've not really thought it through.

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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by Eduk » June 10th, 2018, 4:03 pm

Rjg you quoted me but seem not to have read what you quoted? I specifically said, in the quote, that one may never realise. So yes they are more perceptions, but what was my conclusion?

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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by ThomasHobbes » June 10th, 2018, 4:15 pm

RJG wrote:
June 10th, 2018, 12:39 pm
And furthermore, claiming that our perceptions are of 'real' things because our 'perceptions' tell us so, is non-sensical; (not logically sound). (Example: the ghost that I experienced last night told me he was real, therefore the ghost is real -- is not logically sound, nor rationally valid).

Perceptions cannot logically vouch for themselves, and therefore cannot be trusted to tell us what's real.

I suspect that most people believe their perceptions are of real things because of a life long of indoctrination, ...even though there is absolutely no rational justification to believe such.
Most people have no problem with the difference between waking and sleeping perceptions.

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RJG
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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by RJG » June 10th, 2018, 5:18 pm

ThomasHobbes wrote:Who says the "real" reality is a meaningful idea, or achievable?
Surely such an idea is a myth by those who've not really thought it through.
So then, do you deny a 'real' reality exists out there? I think we can prove at least 'something' out there exists with certainty, ...right? I don't think we can deny that the perceiving (experiencing) itself exists (with absolute certainty!)? If so, then we'd have to also deny our experience of denying.

It is the 'content' of one's experience/perception that is suspect and in question, ...not the experiencing/perceiving itself.

Eduk wrote:Rjg you quoted me but seem not to have read what you quoted? I specifically said, in the quote, that one may never realise. So yes they are more perceptions, but what was my conclusion?
Hi Eduk, I apologize if I misinterpreted your comments. But your conclusion states "I can measure reality using various tools" which seemingly implies that you have a means to perceive (a 'real') reality (so as to then measure it). Again, my apologies if I misunderstood.

RJG wrote:And furthermore, claiming that our perceptions are of 'real' things because our 'perceptions' tell us so, is non-sensical; (not logically sound). (Example: the ghost that I experienced last night told me he was real, therefore the ghost is real -- is not logically sound, nor rationally valid).

Perceptions cannot logically vouch for themselves, and therefore cannot be trusted to tell us what's real.

I suspect that most people believe their perceptions are of real things because of a life long of indoctrination, ...even though there is absolutely no rational justification to believe such.
ThomasHobbes wrote:Most people have no problem with the difference between waking and sleeping perceptions.
Maybe so. But can we tell which waking perceptions are of real things and which are not?

Since we humans are limited, and can only perceive 'mental impressions' (perceptions), and can only experience 'experiences' (sensations), how on earth do we know which perceptions/sensations correspond to actual real things?

...do we let our perceptions tell us which perceptions are real? ...do we let the suspect himself tell us if he is guilty or not (real or not)?

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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by JamesOfSeattle » June 10th, 2018, 7:38 pm

RJG wrote:
June 10th, 2018, 12:09 pm
But aren't the perceivings of our "actions" and the "results of our actions" just MORE perceptions?
Yes, the perceptions of our actions and the perceptions of the results of our actions are perceptions.
Perceptions cannot logically vouch for themselves, and therefore cannot be trusted to tell us what's real.
But perceptions can vouch for prior perceptions, and they can vouch for prior predictions. If I perceive a table in front of me, I can predict a number of perceptions to come when I kick said table. Those predictions may or may not come true in the event, but to the extent they do come true, I have reason to say those predictions were based on reality. My certainty or knowledge is never 100%, but there is a social convention that if the certainty reaches, say, 95%, we can say we have knowledge of reality. That does not mean we have complete knowledge of reality. It means we have sufficient knowledge of reality.


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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by LuckyR » June 11th, 2018, 4:29 am

RJG wrote:
June 10th, 2018, 12:09 pm
LuckyR wrote:Perception is only half of the perception/intellect continuum. Everyone is familiar with optical illusions and sleight of hand and CGI, so we "know" more than we can perceive.
But aren't these "knowings" (i.e. the perceivings of our perceptions) still again just perceptions themselves?
No. Perceptions are data coming into the computational center. The use of this data, or perhaps the decision to not believe a particular perception is an intellectual process, not more perception (raw data from sense organs).
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by Mark1955 » June 11th, 2018, 4:48 am

LuckyR wrote:
June 10th, 2018, 2:49 am
Perception is only half of the perception/intellect continuum. Everyone is familiar with optical illusions and sleight of hand and CGI, so we "know" more than we can perceive.
I'd suggest the opposite, since we are aware we cannot trust our perceptions all our knowledge may be simply false belief based on erroneous perception.

Example a hyper-intelligent species [by human standards] have the ability to construct a neural net of the minds of a lesser species such that those minds believe they are interacting in a real world. They then study the minds as part of an experiment into mental evolution. If they want to study the evolution of religious ideas they implant certain ideas into an individual's head by way of 'dreams', he writes a popular book and off we go.............
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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