Perception and reality

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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Terrapin Station
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Re: Perception and reality

Post by Terrapin Station » February 12th, 2020, 8:03 pm

Prof Bulani wrote:
February 12th, 2020, 7:53 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
February 12th, 2020, 7:21 pm
It's really just an issue of either we're ONLY aware of our mental models, or we can be aware of other things, too--like objective things that we directly experience. It doesn't work to have it both ways.
Sigh...

1. The sum of everything known by an individual at any given point in time (what they are aware of) is that individual's mental content

2. New information is constantly being added to the contents of an individual's mind, through sensory input and internal mental processing

2 a. Information gathered via sensory input is knowledge that comes from experiencing and interacting with objective reality

2 b. Information accumulated from internal mental processes includes that which connects knowledge from objective reality into a more cohesive model, sometimes filling gaps in the model that is missing from direct sensory input.

3. As new information is added to the mental content, the individual learns things other than what was in their mental content at step 1.
Just to make sure of this, you know the difference between saying that we only have awareness (or knowledge by acquaintance) of mental content qua mental content and saying that we have awareness (or knowledge by acquaintance) of the external world, right?

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Re: Perception and reality

Post by Prof Bulani » February 12th, 2020, 8:16 pm

"It's really just an issue of either baby Jimmy can ONLY drink what's in his bottle, or he can drink other things, too - like juice or water. It doesn't work to have it both ways."

"Well, we can simply put juice or water in the bottle..."

"Noooooo! You said the ONLY thing he can drink is what's in his bottle!!! How can he ever drink other things!!"

"The bottle can be opened, allowing you to put new drinks in the bottle...."

"You said he can ONLY drink what's in the bottle!! You're a mono-drink-ist and your position is untenable. Just concede and declare me argumentatively victorious!"

"Ummm, he only drinks what's in the bottle. If he wants to drink something different, we can just add it to the bottle..."

"SEE! YOU SAID ONLY!!! YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS!!! LA LA LA LA LA LA LA!! I WIN, YOU LOSE!"

"Sigh..."
"The purpose of life is to survive and replicate" - Erik von Markovik

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Re: Perception and reality

Post by Prof Bulani » February 12th, 2020, 8:24 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
February 12th, 2020, 8:03 pm
Just to make sure of this, you know the difference between saying that we only have awareness (or knowledge by acquaintance) of mental content qua mental content and saying that we have awareness (or knowledge by acquaintance) of the external world, right?
Just to make sure of this, you know that having awareness of the external world immediately makes it part of your mental content, right?
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Re: Perception and reality

Post by Terrapin Station » February 12th, 2020, 8:48 pm

Prof Bulani wrote:
February 12th, 2020, 8:24 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
February 12th, 2020, 8:03 pm
Just to make sure of this, you know the difference between saying that we only have awareness (or knowledge by acquaintance) of mental content qua mental content and saying that we have awareness (or knowledge by acquaintance) of the external world, right?
Just to make sure of this, you know that having awareness of the external world immediately makes it part of your mental content, right?
Why won't you answer what I'm asking you? I'm trying to clarify if you know the distinction to make sure we're on the same page re exactly what you're claiming. It's not a veiled argument.

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Re: Perception and reality

Post by Terrapin Station » February 12th, 2020, 8:49 pm

Prof Bulani wrote:
February 12th, 2020, 8:24 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
February 12th, 2020, 8:03 pm
Just to make sure of this, you know the difference between saying that we only have awareness (or knowledge by acquaintance) of mental content qua mental content and saying that we have awareness (or knowledge by acquaintance) of the external world, right?
Just to make sure of this, you know that having awareness of the external world immediately makes it part of your mental content, right?
Asking me a question that continues ambiguity over exactly what you're claiming doesn't help.

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Re: Perception and reality

Post by Prof Bulani » February 12th, 2020, 9:29 pm

All awareness is mental content. Awareness of the external world is mental content. It becomes mental content the moment we become aware of it. Awareness of mental content (which sounds redundant) is also mental content, but I'm not sure where you are heading with this.

I need you to follow closely what I'm about to say. When I say that our awareness is equivalent to our mental content, that doesn't mean that we have no way of acquiring new awareness, aka new mental content. We acquire 2 forms of new mental content, and this occurs constantly, both consciously and subconsciously.

Since awareness of anything, including awareness of the external world, is equivalent to our mental content, then the only awareness we have at any given point in time is what's in our mind (and that still includes awareness of the external world). I still don't understand how you keep conflating that with the idea that mental content is limited to what's in the mind, when I've lost count of how many times I've explained that we are constantly acquiring new information from the external world, which is continuously being integrated into the rest of our mental content.
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Re: Perception and reality

Post by Terrapin Station » February 13th, 2020, 5:10 am

Prof Bulani wrote:
February 12th, 2020, 9:29 pm
All awareness is mental content. Awareness of the external world is mental content. It becomes mental content the moment we become aware of it. Awareness of mental content (which sounds redundant) is also mental content, but I'm not sure where you are heading with this.
Right. So you're not really getting the distinction, which is focused on the of part.

Consider this:

All photographs are camera content in the sense of being products of the camera, needing the camera to even occur in the first place, etc.

Now, we can have a photograph of camera content qua camera content --that is, where the photograph consists of the camera itself--in other words, it's literally a photo of the inner workings of the camera, even though we might say that it doesn't look like a camera, and it's only indirectly (and perhaps indeterminately) correlated to anything not the camera,

Or

We can have a photograph of, say, a cow, where it's a clear, direct correlation to something not itself the camera--namely the cow, per just what the cow looks like from the reference point of the camera, given the way light works from the cow to the camera, etc.

This is the distinction--we'd just substitute "mind" for the camera, "perception" or "mental content" for "photograph," etc. The question isn't whether perceptions, mental content, etc. are mental--obviously they are. The question is what they're of, what we have conscious access to, or the ability to be acquainted with. Are they of minds, only, so that they're of images our minds have created, where that's only indirectly (and perhaps indeterminately) correlated to other things, or can they be of something else, clearly and directly?

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Re: Perception and reality

Post by Prof Bulani » February 13th, 2020, 6:26 am

An image of a cow in the mind is a copy of an image of a cow in reality. Only the copy exists in the mind. The real "physical" image of the cow (the configuration of light rays being reflected off the cow and its background) doesn't exist in the mind. Remember, the mind cannot store objects, it can only store copies (representations, if you will) of objects.

I'm not sure if that answers your question. The mind doesn't store "images of the mind" or "images of thoughts in the mind" and I can't see how that's even a meaningful concept. Clear up the question of I'm still misunderstanding you.
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Re: Perception and reality

Post by Prof Bulani » February 13th, 2020, 6:33 am

Coming to think about it, a photograph of camera content doesn't really make sense either. Camera content is data. Even film content, before digital cameras, was light sensitive chemical reactions. I'm not sure what school of thought posits the idea that mental content is a representation/image of data, but I guarantee you that in no way is that remotely in the ballpark of anything I've been saying from the beginning.
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Re: Perception and reality

Post by Terrapin Station » February 13th, 2020, 9:11 am

You're not really getting it. I'll try via illustrations. The two options I'm referring to are these (unfortunately, it was a pain in the butt to upload these somewhere that I could embed them in this post, so I'm just giving you links to them:

https://pasteboard.co/IUuEjF5.jpg
https://pasteboard.co/IUuEWNy.jpg

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Re: Perception and reality

Post by Prof Bulani » February 13th, 2020, 11:11 am

Ok, so there's a fair amount of evidence that suggests that our brains process sensory input unconsciously, and then we become aware of the processed image. So we are aware of the cow in reality, because there is an image of the cow in our mind. There is no reason to think that the mind is aware of the data about the cow being transmitted through or processed by the brain. We do not have to decide to pick up sensory input, nor to process nervous impulses into images, sounds, etc. The brain does that involuntarily.

This distinction is a far flung tangent from anything I've been talking about from the beginning of this thread. The steps taken between sensory input and processed image is largely irrelevant to anything I've explained. The result of an image of the cow in the brain, which occurs regardless of the detailed steps between, is the point. The cow exists in reality. The image of the cow exists in the mind. The individual observes the cow (and everything else in reality) only after the sensory input has been successfully converted into the mental image. If at any point the intermediate processing fails, observing the cow in reality won't occur. The cow will still be there, but the image in our head won't.
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Re: Perception and reality

Post by Sculptor1 » February 13th, 2020, 12:49 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
February 12th, 2020, 7:18 pm
Sculptor1 wrote:
February 12th, 2020, 6:38 pm

FFS
You said this "I'll repeat this again though. Given that you believe you can only be aware of a mental model, you can't know that you actually have sensory input rather than the illusion of the same."
The idea being that you have no way to ground it to anything else, assuming there is anything else, IF you can only be aware of a mental model.
That does not mean I cannot understand the difference between HOW and WHAT, as you rather idiotically suggested.

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Re: Perception and reality

Post by Sculptor1 » February 13th, 2020, 12:51 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
February 12th, 2020, 8:49 pm
Prof Bulani wrote:
February 12th, 2020, 8:24 pm

Just to make sure of this, you know that having awareness of the external world immediately makes it part of your mental content, right?
Asking me a question that continues ambiguity over exactly what you're claiming doesn't help.
There is no ambiguity here. The question is plain enough.

Your awareness of the external world is ipso facto part of your mental content.

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Re: Perception and reality

Post by Atla » February 13th, 2020, 2:01 pm

Prof Bulani wrote:
February 9th, 2020, 6:53 am
There seems to be a popular convention here that either objective reality doesn't exist, or that it is elusive to the point where we can never be sure it exists. Thus truth can only be subjective.

I'll start off by defining truth as a statement that aligns with what actually is. Because the alignment can vary by degrees, the truth value of a statement isn't necessarily always binary, although for many statements it is. Also, I'm not defining truth as a statement that aligns with what one believes actually is. One can believe something to be true that is actually false.

At this point I'll also point out that reality is defined as what actually is. Perception is defined as the model of reality we create in our minds based on our sensory input and our mental reconstruction of this input. More simply, reality is the terrain, perception is the map. Reality is NOT perception.

The question now becomes, how does one determine what actually is? After all, our knowledge is comprised solely of what we have constructed in our minds. And since what resides in our mind relies entirely on what is picked up by our senses and processed by our brain, and since it is reasonable to conclude that we misperceive sensory data, misinterpret what we perceive, and/or misremember what we've perceived and interpreted at least some of the time, we can argue that we cannot rely on our perception to determine reality, i.e., what actually is. The argument is extended to the point where we should abandon all hope of determining objective truth, because such an exercise is futile.

I posit that we can, and generally should, rely on our senses, interpretation and memory as mechanisms for creating mental maps of reality accurate enough that we can make and evaluate statements of objective truth. We have abundant evidence that an organism's survival in reality requires accurate sensory perception, coherent mental interpretation and reliable recollection. Organisms that routinely fail to create accurate maps of reality also fail to navigate reality correctly and die out. Therefore, our existence in realty as living organisms is a strong case for the position that our statements about what is aligns closely, for the most part, with what actually is.

I will add the caveat that we must bear in mind that because we are never free from the possibility of faulty perception, it is wise to give some confidence leeway with regard to statements that we evaluate to be true. The possibility sometimes exists that we should be wrong. With that said, it is unwise to assume that it is impossible to evaluate truth of statements.

Finally, let's suppose that all the evidence we have for us relying on our perception is illusory. We could be actually outputs of a complex software simulation. We could be brains in a vat, with electrodes feeding our experiences to us. We could be bodies in a matrix of fuel cells, living in a simulated overworld realm designed by the architect. We could be figments of a dreaming giant. We could be in a long dream ourselves, as a sentient subatomic particle alone in the void of nothing. And as such, it may be possible that what we conclude is a reconstruction of reality is simply a lifelong illusion.

Under any of those circumstances, or any other possible (or even unimaginable) scenario, reality would still objectively exist. As long as any individual can conclude that "I exist" (and cogito ergo sum asserts that I can), then it necessarily follows that the complement "not I" must also exist. The context "within my mind" can only exist if there also is a "without my mind". This "without my mind" region must be, by definition, objective, as it necessarily exists outside of whatever is constructed in my mind.

If at this point we still maintain that perception is all we have to work with and therefore reality (and by extension, our ability to compare our perception with reality) is inconsequential, I'll grant that as debatable. What is not debatable is the position that reality doesn't exist at all. I'm hoping that moving forward we will treat subjective perception and objective reality as separate things, and not conflate the two.
This looks correct. (Unless the world works by inexplicable magic of course, where there actually are perceptions without an outer world. But even in that case, the existence of the mental model itself would qualify as objective reality.)

But there never was any real reason to doubt the existence of the consensus outside world, and believe in the above magic. Nor would there be much point to it. Also, this pathology known as solipsism runs into some nasty problems like: the mental inner world and the physical outside world are one and the same world. And there is no individual 'I' that is this mind having these experiences.

So what can humans do? They can assume that the outside world is real, and is more or less, sort of, as percieved.

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Re: Perception and reality

Post by Terrapin Station » February 13th, 2020, 2:02 pm

Sculptor1 wrote:
February 13th, 2020, 12:49 pm
Terrapin Station wrote:
February 12th, 2020, 7:18 pm


The idea being that you have no way to ground it to anything else, assuming there is anything else, IF you can only be aware of a mental model.
That does not mean I cannot understand the difference between HOW and WHAT, as you rather idiotically suggested.
The comments in question have nothing to do with you or that discussion.

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