If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it,

Discuss any topics related to metaphysics (the philosophical study of the principles of reality) or epistemology (the philosophical study of knowledge) in this forum.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

yes
120
66%
no
63
34%
 
Total votes: 183

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Empiricist-Bruno
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Re: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear

Post by Empiricist-Bruno » August 20th, 2016, 3:27 pm

Quotidian,
I'm happy to see that despite not identifying exactly what it is that makes no sense to me, you were able to pin it down quite well. Here I could say, you know what doesn't make sense just as well as I do and then rest my case with that. :)

But no, I feel that the ultimate reason why this doesn't make sense is left alone and so, I'll touch a bit on it right here:

It all comes down to our understanding of the notion of time. I think it doesn't exist and you even provide a compelling argument for this point of view in the article about the difficulty involved in timing the universe.

If time doesn't exist you can't have a past or future but the now moment can stick with you and it can do so without freezing you in time. What you may want to claim as evidence of the past, such as the rock record with fossils in them, that is to me only evidence of the existence of series: one moment is succeeded by the next and in my opinion this complete succession can be done in a single moment, an infinity of times.

I do not understand our actual present as being sometime before the future and beyond the past. I think the actual present generates series. The point of these series is to unable us to create stories that are actually meaningful.

I think it is possible to understand my point of view but only if you understand what stories are for: to enrich you. When you think that the point of the story is to put you in touch with what is real, you are sure to miss the point, in my opinion.

Finally Quotidian, I'd like to say that if you wonder what a question is about or not about, I would advise you to refer to the person who asked the question. Also, when you say that we know that the earth existed for million of years, I laugh. I know I laugh and this is absolute knowledge to me and it exists while it is happening. The very essence of the word "to exist" means to be part of the world now. Isn't the past not now? ( Of which we should remain silent) I think "now" can exist as the past in a fictional story and stand for the past this way but it can have no other form of existence than such a fictional existence. And I would argue that a fictional existence is not my current reality. I question your assumption that something does or can exist as non fiction in what you call the past. As you can perhaps see, we are miles apart in our worldly views and this is why we may appear to each other as non-sense.
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Re: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear

Post by Quotidian » August 20th, 2016, 7:48 pm

Iapetus wrote:Kant was a man of his time with many enlightened ideas and quite a few repulsive ones. I am more interested in the ideas than in the man.
The reason I brought Kant up was directly connected with your point about perception in your previous post. That understanding of 'what the mind brings to experience' is of fundamental importance in my view, and why the CPR is said to be the most important philosophical book of our age.
Iapetus wrote:The soundness, reliability and repeatability [of knowledge] are always relative and imperfect and we need to base our interpretations of the universe on that awareness.
I would say, we need to temper our interpretations in light of that understanding. And to me the most obvious target for that sense of humility is precisely 'naturalism', defined as 'the philosophical belief that everything arises from natural properties and causes', which is the predominant view of the secular intelligentsia (and what I am referring to in saying that is the prevailing intellectual framework of British, American and European universities.)
Iapetus wrote:It seems to me that invariance is vary far from being demonstrated. I have already mentioned Einstein. There there is the uncertainty principle, Schrödinger’s cat and so on. At the most fundamental levels we are capable of studying, uncertainty and probability may well be built-in principles. ‘Particles’ must be interpreted as wave probabilities.
I'm well aware of that. But what I meant by 'invariance' is simply that, regardless of the observer, you will get the same results, across a large domain of laws. In other words, I am arguing against the notion that the world is simply 'in the mind'. Many believe that idealism says such a thing, whereas, one can be perfectly realistic about scientific laws, within their domain of application. For instance, if you're landing a Mars Lander, knowledge of the laws of motion, the theory of relativity and quantum physics is required; otherwise you can't do it. And we can and have done it, ergo, we have that knowledge, and it's real knowledge. So I am arguing that those laws of science are invariant in their domain.

As for Einstiein and uncertainty, and the rest, I have done quite a bit of reading on those subjects. I think the discoveries of quantum mechanics were a fundamental turning point in history, of the same magnitude as the 'scientific revolution'. But my preferred interpretive paradigm is along the lines of The Tao of Physics and the other mystical interpretations. Of course that is anathema to naturalism and very, very few people either understand it or have any sympathy for it. Anyway, now there are massive debates about multiverses, many worlds, string theory, and so on. I don't think I want to debate all that, it's a can of worms. The upshot is, to be aware of the fact that reality remains mysterious, not to fall into the trap of thinking we have it worked out in principle (like so many of our pop-sci commentators seem to think.)
Nick_A wrote:If a man is in the middle of a forest and decides to express his opinion loudly but there is no woman around for miles to hear him, is he still wrong?
:mrgreen:
Empiricist Bruno wrote:t all comes down to our understanding of the notion of time. I think it doesn't exist and you even provide a compelling argument for this point of view in the article about the difficulty involved in timing the universe.
The nature of time is a very deep philosophical and scientific problem and one that occupies far greater minds than my own.
'For there are many here among us who think that life is but a joke' ~ Dylan

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Re: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear

Post by Greta » August 20th, 2016, 11:22 pm

I understand that a Bose-Einstein condensate can be used to create sonic black holes, where the air rushing into a space is faster than the speed of sound. No sound can escape such an object because it actively removes sound from its local environment, the sound seemingly lost forever.

You may ask, what happened to the sound? Apparently it is very gradually, almost imperceptibly, released in a way similar to how Hawking radiation is hypothesised to leak from cosmic black holes. Discrete sounds would them be homogenised into an imperceptible hum. This would seem to be the fate of all sound waves - to dissipate into an imperceptible hum.

These dynamics need no observers. The only difference the latter makes in the short term is acting as an acoustic baffle. A piece of reality may be observed or unobserved, and often it makes no difference; everything still happens. If a conscious observer is present then the event has simply been observed by another part of reality, who will have a unique perspective. If you are conscious then you have to look and listen to something ... that something is always other parts of reality. So, where there is life, there are countless dynamic perspectives applied to most parts of reality.

I don't see difficulty in this thought experiment, other than making clear that each perception comes from a unique perspective and that those perceptions are dependent upon senses and attention. After all, you might have a headset blaring with loud music and not hear the tree fall, although if close enough you could be alerted to it by the vibrations or peripheral vision; the physical reality remains present and consistent, irregardless of observers.
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Re: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear

Post by Iapetus » August 21st, 2016, 5:47 am

Reply to Quotidian:

But what I meant by 'invariance' is simply that, regardless of the observer, you will get the same results, across a large domain of laws.


The problem here is that there is no ‘simply’ about it. The quantum world is profoundly difficult to grasp and interpret and it is dominated by the significance of the observer and observations. The world as it ‘exists’ cannot be separated from the observer; that was the significance of the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment. The ‘reality’ of the quantum world can only be interpreted through a study of probabilities. The uncertainty principle indicates that we cannot be certain about any two properties of a particle at the same time, even in theory. If we can measure one property, then we cannot know with certainty the other. We will not get the same results on consecutive tests, even if we know that the results will fall within an anticipated field of uncertainty. There is variance.

On the macro scale the same applies. Every time an experiment is repeated there are numerous sources of variation from the original; in environmental conditions, in experimenter behaviour, in setup of equipment and so on. The best that any scientist can do is to minimise these sources as far as is possible and many protocols have been established to ensure accuracy. But there are always limits to that accuracy. That is why, for example, sample size is so significant in many studies. Any individual sample is subject to numerous sources of error. Statistical manipulation of large samples attempts to reduce the overall impact of those errors.

Which is why we are able to spend massive sums of money on sending spacecraft to Mars with high confidence of success. The procedures do not have to be perfect but they do have to be very, very precise. There is variance.

Then there are the ‘laws’ themselves. Newton’s interpretation of gravity was held as ‘truth’ until Einstein demonstrated shortcomings. Einstein could not accept changes in his interpretation required by quantum rules. He thought that ‘God does not play dice’. But He appears to. There is variance.

You may argue that all this variance is in the observer, not the ‘world’ itself. But we can only know the world through the observer. We have no way of knowing ‘reality’ otherwise. The two are intertwined.

In other words, I am arguing against the notion that the world is simply 'in the mind'.



Thus, I don’t think that ‘simply’ works in this sentence either.

But my preferred interpretive paradigm is along the lines of The Tao of Physics and the other mystical interpretations. Of course that is anathema to naturalism and very, very few people either understand it or have any sympathy for it.



Quotidian, you can believe anything you like. We believe things for all sorts of reasons. But don’t expect me to believe the same thing without good reason and, in the world of philosophical discussion, that requires logic, justification and so on. Saying, “that is anathema to naturalism” without any justification means very little. You might as well say, ‘you should have faith because I say so’. It carries no power to persuade. It is preaching.

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Re: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear

Post by Quotidian » August 21st, 2016, 8:32 am

Iapetus wrote:The ‘reality’ of the quantum world can only be interpreted through a study of probabilities.
I know that, but what is the significance of that point in this context? The example I gave was that, in order to create a Mars lander, you have to have knowledge of Newton's laws, relativity, and also quantum physics, not to mention rocket science and astronomy. Without that knowledge, you couldn't manage such an undertaking. So I am saying, using that as an example, that even if knowledge is limited in some fundamental way, it is still effective within its domain of application.

So maybe the problem is with my use of the word 'invariant'. What I was trying to express was that the objective sciences do make predictions, measurement, and so on, which are the same for any observer, i.e. they are not 'observer dependent' in any obvious sense. That is so, even if there is no such thing as an absolute objectivity. I suppose the position I am arguing for is pragmatic.
Iapetus wrote:Newton’s interpretation of gravity was held as ‘truth’ until Einstein demonstrated shortcomings.
Not so. It was in respect of the nature of gravity that Newton famously said 'I feign no hypothesis'.
Iapetus wrote:You may argue that all this variance is in the observer, not the ‘world’ itself. But we can only know the world through the observer. We have no way of knowing ‘reality’ otherwise. The two are intertwined.
I agree that 'the two are intertwined', that is very much the point I have been labouring to make. And I was not 'preaching', I simply expressed an opinion with regards to a school of thought.
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Re: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear

Post by Iapetus » August 21st, 2016, 12:08 pm

Reply to Quotidian:

So maybe the problem is with my use of the word 'invariant'.



That was certainly what I was commenting about, as I suggested in the post before last. That was also the significance of my comments about the quantum world. I wanted to clarify because I think it is an important point in any consideration of ‘reality’. Newton may well have said, 'I feign no hypothesis' but I did not say that he held it as truth. Others have, however.

I was not sure precisely how you regarded ‘objectivity’ in science but I think now that we are singing from the same hymnbook.

Just as you expressed an opinion about a school of thought, so I explained my response to it. I thought it was the sort of thing which could be regarded as preaching if the context and relevance were not explained.

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Re: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear

Post by Oyim » August 23rd, 2016, 5:20 am

Every sound made in the cosmos contributes to the rhythm and music of the universe. Unrestrained, the sound travels to the boundless space and every sphere through which it travels becomes a witness to its existence. It keeps moving irrespective of who hears it or not.
So also is that tree when it falls. There's a sound indeed no matter who's there to hear it. What the human brain does is to notify us of such sensory occurrences. But in a situation such as this, it can't notify the man. If all men were deaf, would there be a sound? Well, that's a question for another day, but in our context here, deaf men are not considered.

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Re: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear

Post by Slzfisher » October 2nd, 2016, 12:40 pm

I am a tree beetle of union183 of crafty deforesters and agents of decomposition. Perhaps my knowledge as a menial tree beetle does not earn me the granted stature of forum here, and perhaps it does. Regardless, here i am, you are reading my words, and now you can tell ME because this treatise has befallen in our midst. Listen! Is there sound?

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Re: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear

Post by Platos stepchild » December 12th, 2016, 3:33 am

Although I've posted to this forum before, I've been thinking a lot about it, since. I've come to believe the question of whether a falling tree makes a sound, if no one's listening, is a question about qualia. The question regarding qualia is about whether there's a subjective aspect to objective stimuli, such as the sound of a falling tree. It might be that sound, i.e., the sharp cracking of wood and the swishing of branches is a physical property of trees falling.

Usually, the debate about qualia is whether it exists, or not. The best argument in favor is what would it be like to wake up, and find the color of everything we know inverted. Maybe the sky's green, and trees are all blue. We wouldn't know whether our perceptions were off, or whether our memories were defective. Not knowing the difference is crucial because, if qualia existed we'd surely know our memories were defective, and that somehow colors really had been tampered with.

The best argument in favor of qualia is the so-called Monochromatic Mary argument. Mary, who is a scientist specializing in optics can only know the world in black-and-white. For sentimental reasons, she sets out to learn everything about the color red. Let's say she accomplishes her task. What if Mary had an operation, giving her full-color sight. Would she go wow! upon see red, or would she shrug and say, just what I expected?

The reason I'd expect Mary to be shocked with wonder is because, by the same logic I'd expect to get stoned, provided I knew everything there is to know about weed, which of course isn't true. (I'm tacitly assuming that being stoned is a quale). The argument against qualia seems flawed, to me. Recent studies done with fRMI's have shown that information processed from experiences is similar to how memories are processed. In that case, tampering with colors couldn't be detected, if memories of green trees were planted in our minds, at the same time as the altered experience of seeing green trees.

So, even if some mad scientist fooled with our brains, we'd still have no reason to doubt that the redness of trees was a quale. I'm going to now turn qualia on it's head by assuming (1): that it exists; and, (2): that there's no difference between the color red, and the experience of having our optic nerves hit by light with a wavelength of 650 nm. In other words, we see the frequencies and colors of light as light. We hear the frequencies and wavelengths of sound as sound.

The sound of a falling tree is the tree falling. Were an observer there, when the tree fell she'd glean nothing more than what happens when there's no one around. So, there are subjective states, after all. They just happen to be objective reality. We internalize qualia by remembering them. The reason we're not constantly surprised by what we see, and hear is because what we see, and here jives with our memories. But, what if we really are being manipulated by a mad scientist? So what; as long as he doesn't screw with us, too much.

Note: if qualia are the memories of objective reality, it wouldn't be possible to tamper with them. Since reality doesn't change on a whim, any altered memories would immediately become suspect, when compared with the world.

-- Updated December 12th, 2016, 4:54 am to add the following --

I'm really waffling on whether, or not qualia exist. I felt satisfied with my conclusion until I thought about optical illusions. Do train tracks really meet at the horizon? No; of course not. But, by assuming that raw sense data are really our perceptions of that which the data represent, am I not tacitly assuming that train tracks do meet at the horizon? I have no answer at this time.

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Re: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear

Post by Camalot15 » December 29th, 2016, 2:46 pm

The physics of an event are the physics of the event, observer or no observer they were determined in the bigbang. The on going logic nature of the event presents the event. The awareness of an observer is logic beond the domain of the speed of light the exact same as the on going logic that organises the event. So the action of a tree falling is the work of logic inside the event but at the same time outside the event inside consciousness.

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Re: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear

Post by Camalot15 » December 29th, 2016, 4:31 pm

The logic in the action of the tree falling unobserved and an observers logic as consciousness observing the tree falling must be indistingishable. In other words the logic in an action and consciousness is indistingishable. Consciousness meeting an action is the logic in that same action.

-- Updated December 30th, 2016, 10:22 am to add the following --

So that from this we can see that the observers consciousness as logic is inseparable from the logic inherent in the fulfillment of an action.

-- Updated December 30th, 2016, 10:31 am to add the following --

Belinda the logic in the system of the tree falling incorporates the logic of a future observer seeing that the tree has fallen.

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Re: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear

Post by Present awareness » January 4th, 2017, 11:50 am

The observer and the observed, are two sides of the same coin. Is it possible to have a coin with just one side?
Even though you can see me, I might not be here.

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Re: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear

Post by Eluhorem » January 15th, 2017, 10:11 pm

Present awareness wrote:The observer and the observed, are two sides of the same coin. Is it possible to have a coin with just one side?
Maybe if your coin is a mobius strip?

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Re: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear

Post by Sage4557 » February 6th, 2017, 9:20 pm

To say "no" the fallen tree did not make a sound because there was not a human being present to experience the natural events that occur during the falling of a tree is ludicrous. It would put human beings at the center of all life, that with out human beings nothing exists. Human beings are not required for a tree to make a sound when it falls. The only things required is the natural order of existence.

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Re: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear

Post by Darksideoftheworld » June 23rd, 2017, 1:02 am

I think you are looking at this from a too scientific point of view. As humans are nature is to only be aware of what happens to us or something that happens to another that could then effect us as ourselves. And as such self centered creatures in doesn't make sense for us to care about a sound that a member of our species doesn't hear. SO my answer is no that tree doesn't make a sound.

PS: people who made the scientific argument of "sound is the comprehension of the vibration of molecules in the human head" I said in a very very sarcastic voice, I would say that should there be an animal in that forest then that animal would have the comprehension to hear the sound so their would be a sound...just fyi

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