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

Post by Eduk » July 3rd, 2018, 3:58 am

-1- yes best is a loaded term. I meant it as it is used normatively. If you wish to dive a little deeper I suppose I mean best existentially which does clear up some issues. But still leaves one rather large problem in that the best is unknown and possibly unknowable. So really I should do the best best that I can, as doing the best is impractical.

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

Post by Eduk » July 3rd, 2018, 4:02 am

Or maybe it would be better expressed differently. You should make a sincere effort. This is true whether in a computer game or not. The key word being sincere.

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

Post by Felix » July 3rd, 2018, 5:29 am

RJG: What does Descartes "I think, therefore I am" have to do with this topic?
Everything. Descartes insight was that the only thing he could not doubt was that he (the "I Am) exists, the existence of all else could be doubted. "I think therefore I Am" was simply a pithy, and not entirely accurate, summation of his insight.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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mr533473
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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by mr533473 » July 3rd, 2018, 5:31 am

Felix wrote:RJG, It seems to me that you have just regurgitated Descartes' cogito ergo sum argument, there is nothing new in your commentary. If you disagree, what is it you think you have added to it?
RJG wrote:Hi Felix. Yes, of course I disagree. What does Descartes "I think, therefore I am" have to do with this topic?
Felix has asserted that you are not introducing a new idea or question to the philosophical discourse. It's not hard for him to connect your idea that all you can really know is your consciousness is real with Descartes' cogito ergo sum argument. Do you really not see his point?

He also asked if you disagree (that is you do in fact feel you add something new in your commentary) to tell him what you have added. You go on to disagree but don't respond to his question.. I'm interested in hearing an answer too if you'd entertain it. Explain how your point is different or goes beyond or relates to it in so far as... but... you know? anything but "what does it have to do with this topic?" like you see absolutely no connection.

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Mark1955
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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by Mark1955 » July 3rd, 2018, 5:40 am

RJG wrote:
July 2nd, 2018, 3:29 pm
RJG wrote:Our 'view'-of-reality (aka "perceptions") are one thing, and 'reality' itself, is another. I am NOT "implying", nor conflating, one as the other. These are TWO different things/concepts.
Mark1955 wrote:How do you know this, how can you make statement about something you cannot perceive. Surely the assumption of an absolute 'reality' has to remain that, an assumption.
Not so. -- Can you 'perceive' something/anything? If so, then 'perceiving' absolutely exists (i.e. it is therefore something that is 'absolutely real'). Or do you deny that perceiving exists? -- And if so, then do you also deny your perceiving of denying?

It is not the 'perception' (i.e. the object of the perceiving) that exists with absolute certainty. It is the "perceiving" itself. It is the content of ones perceivings that are 'suspect', and again, not the perceivings themselves.

And from this absolutely real "perceiving", we can then logically derive a "perceiver" (an entity that perceives) with logical certainty.
I define perception as the inputs I think I get so I can be sure I'm perceiving because that's how I define it and thus I am a perceiver again because that's my self definition. In other words this has nothing to do with reality just with my application of a definition to a part of my understanding. The nature of those perceptions is always potentially false so what I understand based on my perceptions is always potentially false.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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Mark1955
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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by Mark1955 » July 3rd, 2018, 5:46 am

Eduk wrote:
July 2nd, 2018, 6:20 pm
Thinking you are does make for a compelling argument in my opinion, but I'm not certain.
However I'm happy to play the what if game. If reality is as it appears then logically I should do the best I can. And if reality is some elaborate video game then again I should do the best I can.
For my money there is always some hidden agenda in such mussings being delivered as anything profound or meaningful. Usually used to justify an otherwise unjustifiable position.
My entirely unhidden agenda is that if nothing you think you know is certain, then don't be so certain you have the 'right' answer, be prepared to adapt your answer to new information and even if you don't get new information realise you're probably at least partly wrong so don't be so damned cocky, or dictatorial.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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Mark1955
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Re: Can we trust our perceptions to tell us what's real?

Post by Mark1955 » July 3rd, 2018, 5:50 am

Felix wrote:
July 3rd, 2018, 5:29 am
RJG: What does Descartes "I think, therefore I am" have to do with this topic?
Everything. Descartes insight was that the only thing he could not doubt was that he (the "I Am") exists, the existence of all else could be doubted. "I think therefore I Am" was simply a pithy, and not entirely accurate, summation of his insight.
While I agree, I'd add the rider that "I may not be what I think I am". Sort of "My consciousness is, although what and how it is I do not know".
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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

Post by Eduk » July 3rd, 2018, 7:27 am

My entirely unhidden agenda is that if nothing you think you know is certain, then don't be so certain you have the 'right' answer, be prepared to adapt your answer to new information and even if you don't get new information realise you're probably at least partly wrong so don't be so damned cocky, or dictatorial.
Yes a leading principle behind the scientific method. The interesting thing is the conclusions that can be drawn from the above. These range from anything goes to, well, the scientific method.
Out of interest can you name specific instances where you feel that lack of certainty is improperly applied and the opposite where lack of certainty if properly applied. Ideally the best examples of the largest import would be most interesting.

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

Post by RJG » July 3rd, 2018, 11:31 am

mr533473 wrote:I'd like to continue but how am I supposed to if in every post the analogy takes on a new meaning?
Every post? Really?? So then, is it MY words, or is it YOUR interpretation (of my words) that causes your confusion?

This analogy is very simple, and no where near as complicated as you seem to make it out to be.

1. A "porthole" is something that you look through, and is a 'means' of seeing something out-there (on the other side of the porthole), ...right? So in this analogy, "porthole" is analogous to "consciousness". For it is consciousness (i.e. this porthole) that allows us to see (perceive) what is "out-there", ...true? Without consciousness, we wouldn't know what our eyeballs were looking at, nor could we know what our bodily senses were sensing, ...true?

2. "Perceptions" are that what we perceive, ...right? So, in the analogy, that what you see (perceive) through this porthole is your view of reality (i.e. your "perceptions"). We don't actually perceive/sense/experience actual 'real things' themselves, ...right? It is through the window of consciousness that we perceive perceptions, sense sensations, and experience experiences, ...right?

Without this porthole of consciousness, there would be no perceiving/sensing/experiencing of ANYTHING!

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

Post by RJG » July 3rd, 2018, 11:49 am

mr533473 wrote:Felix has asserted that you are not introducing a new idea or question to the philosophical discourse. It's not hard for him to connect your idea that all you can really know is your consciousness is real with Descartes' cogito ergo sum argument. Do you really not see his point?
Yes, I see what Felix is saying, but this/my topic is about the "trustworthiness" of perceptions, whereas Descartes topic is similar but focused on the proof of 'self' (or "I") in his famous "therefore I am" conclusion. These ("trustworthiness of perceptions" and the "proof of I") are TWO different discussions/topics with different conclusions/points to be made.

mr533473 wrote:He also asked if you disagree (that is you do in fact feel you add something new in your commentary) to tell him what you have added. You go on to disagree but don't respond to his question.
There is nothing to "add" (to make them equivalent) if they draw different conclusions; make different points.

mr533473 wrote:I'm interested in hearing an answer too if you'd entertain it. Explain how your point is different or goes beyond or relates to it in so far as... but... you know?
Now this is a question I can answer! "Different" is different than "add". I'll explain the the differences soon, when I can break away here to do so.

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

Post by ThomasHobbes » July 3rd, 2018, 12:21 pm

Mark1955 wrote:
June 19th, 2018, 9:44 am
LuckyR wrote:
June 18th, 2018, 2:17 am
So when you see a pretty assistant sawn in half in a box on stage, you think she is really sawn in half?

No. Experience trumps perception.
Of course as several good murder mystery programs have used in the plot, one day it might be real and your experience will be wrong. As a more likely example, I pull the brake lever on my bike, my bike slows down and stops. Except one day the cable snaps and the bike doesn't stop. Accidents are nature's way of reminding us that cause and effect is not always as consistent as we'd like it to be.
You are missing the point.
There is no experience without perception, so the phrase "experience trumps perception" is utterly meaningless. it's like saying the omelette trumps eggs.

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

Post by Felix » July 3rd, 2018, 3:05 pm

RJG: Yes, I see what Felix is saying, but this/my topic is about the "trustworthiness" of perceptions, whereas Descartes topic is similar but focused on the proof of 'self' (or "I") in his famous "therefore I am" conclusion. These ("trustworthiness of perceptions" and the "proof of I") are TWO different discussions/topics with different conclusions/points to be made.
They are not two different topics at all, they are interdependent. The whole point of Descartes argument was that he could trust that he, the thinker/perciever, exists, he could not doubt his own existence, but he could doubt that the objects he senses/thinks about actually exist - including his own body.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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

Post by RJG » July 3rd, 2018, 3:06 pm

DESCARTES' "I THINK, THEREFORE I AM"

Descartes's goal was to arrive at one item of truth that could serve as the starting-point and foundation for all knowledge. His starting point was his famous statement "I think, therefore I am". As Descartes explained, "We cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt …" Descartes asserted that the very act of doubting one's own existence was proof of the reality of one's own mind; there must be a thinking entity; a “self”; a “mind”, for there to be a thought.

According to Descartes, "I can doubt anything. But when I doubt, I am thinking, and as long as I am thinking, I exist. Thinking is inseparable from me. Thus I have a clear and distinct idea that I am a mind, or intelligence, and my nature is a thinking thing. On the other hand, I have also a clear idea of body as an extended and non-thinking thing." He concludes that res cogitans and res extensa are two independent entities. This dichotomy is the foundation of Descartes's dualism. “For all that I am a thing that is real and which truly exists. But what kind of a thing? … A thinking thing (res cogitans).” --- source unknown



Descartes makes three critical errors --

1. Firstly, Descartes commits the logical fallacy of ‘equivocation’. Descartes high degree of "certainty" of a “thinking” thing (of a ‘mind’ called “I”) derives specifically from his 'experiencing-of-thoughts', and not from his presumed or claimed ‘thinking’-of-thoughts.

Instead of Descartes immediately stopping and proclaiming to the world, “I EXPERIENCE thoughts!” as his starting premise to derive all true knowledge, he instead takes a blind leap of faith, and falsely proclaims (via equivocation), that “I THINK!” as this starting premise. …which of course is just bad (flawed) logic.

The experiencing-of-thoughts and the thinking-of-thoughts are not necessarily the same thing. One is a passive experience (the hearing of a constant monologue voice in one’s head), and the other is an action (the authoring/creating/constructing of those thoughts that are then experienced). Descartes falsely equivocates the two as one-in-the-same.

Descartes doesn't (can't) really know "with certainty" that he "thinks", for all he can really know "with certainty" is that he "experiences thoughts". He can only presume that he is the “thinker”; the author/creator/constructor of these thoughts. And as a side note: Contrary to popular belief, consciously (knowingly) “thinking” is logically impossible.

Although the “I experience thoughts” versus “I think” may seem to be a minor nit-picky technicality, it is nonetheless ultra-critical, ...especially if this supposed ("first principle") starting premise is to serve as the 'seed' to derive all 'true' knowledge.

This particular error led to Descartes flawed dualistic position (mind and body), when,in actuality, there only exists a monistic body that experiences thoughts (bits of sensory experiences composed by cultural language rules into meaningful sensations).


2. Secondly, Descartes further compounds his problems by committing another logical fallacy. "I think, therefore I am" is logically flawed because it pre-assumes the conclusion (it "begs the question").

We have two occurrences of “I” in this famous statement. The "I" in the premise (“I think”) is already presumed to exist when claiming to prove its existence in the conclusion ("therefore I am"). This fallacy is called “pre-assuming the conclusion” or more commonly known as “begging-the-question”.
  • Similar logically flawed examples:
    1. God answers prayers, therefore God exists.
    2. Ghosts are invisible, therefore ghosts exist.
    3. X does Y, therefore X exists.
    4. I think, therefore I exist.

3. Thirdly, Descartes did not go back far enough. If one’s goal is to find the true starting point of knowledge, then the starting premise is of utmost criticalness. This starting premise needs to be ‘absolute and undeniable’. Descartes premise “I think, …” does not meet this level of certainty. Descartes should replace the “I think”, with “I experience”, or to be truly accurate, he should replace it with “Experiencing exists”. Since the “I” has not yet been determined with absolute certainty, it does not belong in this starting premise. For this critical first premise, the ‘experiencing’ itself is the only true absolute/undoubtable thing, and therefore is the only thing that belongs in this starting premise.

So to help Descartes reach his original goal, I have re-written his logical statement that satisfies his original goal:

“Experiencing exists, therefore I (the experiencer) exist.”

But this of course, shoots down his dualistic position. “I” is just the ‘experiencer’, and is NOT a ‘mind’ (nor a 'thinker of thoughts' entity - but only an experiencer of thoughts, ...and feelings, and sensory experiences).

*****
Last edited by RJG on July 3rd, 2018, 3:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Felix » July 3rd, 2018, 3:19 pm

You are only demonstrating that you do not Descartes argument, his thinker was much more than a mere thought processor.

From his second meditation:
"But then what am I? A thing that thinks (res cogitans). What is that? A thing that doubts (dubitans), understands (intelligens), affirms (affirmans), denies (negans), wills (volens), refuses (nolens), and that also imagines (imaginans) and senses (sentiens)"
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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

Post by RJG » July 3rd, 2018, 3:33 pm

Felix wrote:...his thinker was much more than a mere thought processor. From his second meditation:

"But then what am I? A thing that thinks (res cogitans). What is that? A thing that doubts (dubitans), understands (intelligens), affirms (affirmans), denies (negans), wills (volens), refuses (nolens), and that also imagines (imaginans) and senses (sentiens)"
Felix, you fail to see, that it really is just the "experiencing" of the claim that is the actuality, ...not the claim itself.

We don't actually "think", we merely only "experience thoughts".
We don't actually "doubt", we merely only "experience doubts".
We don't actually "understand", we merely only "experience understanding".
We don't actually "affirm/deny/will/refuse/imagine/sense/etc, we merely only "experience affirming/denying/willing/refusing/imagination/sensations/etc"

Descartes wrote:"But then what am I?
You ("I") are just an "EXPERIENCER". ...that's it, ...just a monistic (non-"minded") experiencer.

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