Brain in a vat

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by James R, Nov 22, 2016.

  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Yes, generally. Although I'm sure you're aware of some brains preserved in jars, for example. That is, you appreciate that a brain can be removed from a skull.

    And specifically, you don't know that your brain resides in a skull. You assume it does, but you don't know.

    To keep things simple for now, perhaps you'd better concentrate on the example of a physical brain as you know it in a physical vat somewhere. Once you've got that scenario straight in your head, then we can move on to discuss simulated brains in computers or something.
     
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    See what Baldeee did there, Jan? He summarised his correct understanding of the entire thought experiment elegantly in a single post. Meanwhile, you're still struggling to grasp it.
     
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  5. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

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    So do I have access to other knowledge?

    jan.
     
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  7. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

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    Why don't you use your moderator power, and slip Baldeee a hundred more likes?

    jan.
     
  8. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    If you are wondering then you must not have a brain in a skull and therefore you must be a brain in a vat as I assumed all along.
     
  9. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, that's the gist.

    But think the point is, there is no "wider reality". There is still only our own perceptions.
    Arguably, there is a consensus-reality, but that too is predicated on unproveable the axiom that other people are not illusions.

    If others are, like me, thinking minds (and not merely my own imaging) then we can agree on a consensual reality.
    That reality is still predicated on the (known to be unproveable) axiom that what we are seeing is a faithful reproduction of what is "really happening" out there.

    The best we have is working theories to explain what we take in through our senses (whether or not "real" has any meaning), and that our theories are internally and consensually consistent.
     
  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Ad hom. You are not attacking the debate topic anymore, but attacking the debater.

    (OK, well - he was kinda mean...)
     
  11. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    If you have a point, why don't you make it?
     
  12. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Because, I'd hazard to guess, the period on his keyboard is busted.
    Only the question mark works.
     
  13. birch Valued Senior Member

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    Well, this can go both ways. Jan was criticized for assuming things dont exist without evidence when it certainly can and it is like a hail mary to get anyone to even concede that point on this forum. This assumption, even hypothetical of the brain in a vat is similar to the same argument of nonsense of any ideas with no evidence.

    Many things can be true with no evidence yet and the problem also is a type of prejudice against a certain type of evidence because of the nature of the issue which wont be accepted anyways so sometimes it is pointless to try. Dont use a fork to eat soup etc and most here use or apply the same methodology without realizing things can be real and legitimate but if you obliterate the components with your methodology, you've destroyed or blind to the ability to even garner it.
     
  14. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

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    I'm going to. I just want to clear the runway.

    jan.
     
  15. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

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    Mean? I was willing to give Baldeee 100 likes for his tremendousness. One like would be nothing short of an insult.
    That's hardly mean.

    jan
     
  16. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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    If you are not in a brain in a vat you should be able to work that out, and I believe I can present arguement that would strongly support that position.
    However if a brain in a vat I suggest it would be most difficult to know because the mechainics would dictate inputs to the brain would control all the brains calculations, and reasoning if indeed reasoning were available in such a situation.
    The brain would presumably dependant of "the keeper" and programer, or whatever you name the caretaker of the vat.

    Alex
     
  17. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    birch:

    What kinds of things do you think exist without evidence?

    I started this thread. I have at no time claimed that anybody is a brain in a vat. I merely took issue with Jan's claim that he knows he is not a brain in a vat. He is claiming to have knowledge that he doesn't have, as I have shown.

    Like what? I'm not saying you're wrong. I'd just like some examples, if you have some.
     
  18. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    You can do it, Jan. You can understand this if you try.
     
  19. birch Valued Senior Member

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    Why examples? You do not know anyone is a brain in a vat versus jan's claim he knows he isnt but you are arguing he doesnt. Going by just the so-called evidence of logic so touted as absolute his logic applies more aptly, not that its my view.

    You just had a discussion with jan where he denied the existence of things and events without knowledge, that is essentially the same thing as things existing without evidence. We may be a brain in a vat but there is no evidence. We may be ghosts in a simulation but there is no evidence. The universe may exist on the sweat of a larger being's brow but there is no evidence. Maybe its being flushed down a toilet, who knows? Lack of evidence doesnt negate the existence of something just because we arent aware of it or evidence is out of reach as you pointed out and is common sense which for some strange reason many on this forum forget.

    The fringe section is full of naysayers who are 'sure' none of that exists because there is no evidence. What is the difference here? Nothing essentially except you are arguing on the other side.

    Playing devil's advocate, there is no evidence for a simulation but there is evidence that one has a body, brain and skull which it resides. Thats the type of evidence most here go by but not on this topic.

    But when it comes to fringe areas that are not pet related topics of the science fora, its given utter hogwash treatment but computer simulations, brains in vat etc are such appealing speculations to some though could be deemed pseudoscience or fantasy.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
  20. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Where was this criticism for assuming things don't exist without evidence?
    Most here would/should concur that it is not generally considered rational to assume things do exist without evidence.
    But here, in this thought experiment, it is not about what we assume, as we assume that which we have evidence for: that we are a brain in a skull, but it is about that which we can know.
    The practical assumption of something is different from knowing it.
    Interesting: you lambast as nonsense the discussion about a brain in a vat for being without evidence, then go on to explain that "many things can be true with no evidence yet". (Have you been learning about how to be consistent from Jan, perhaps?)

    Now, can you provide an example of something that is true while not having evidence? Are you going to drag this thread into the paranormal and suggest psychics and tarot cards, for example, and how it is true they have access to the various other dimensions of existence?
     
  21. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Ah, so it is just a rant against those who discuss against the existence of paranormal and fringe, due to lack of evidence.
    Okay,
    Where to begin.

    First, this thread is NOT about what does or does not actually exist, but is about what could possibly exist. It is a thought experiment.

    Second, it is not about what we practically and rationally accept with regard those things but about what we can know.

    Third, and this is the key difference to the general discussions in the fringe section: no one here is claiming any of this (the brain in a vat) to be true, to be what should be rationally accepted, to be what is known - precisely because there is no evidence. In the fringe sections people claim that the paranormal exists, that psychics work, that tarot cards (and/or their users) are able to tap into alternate dimensions etc. I.e, there are claims being made that are not supported by the evidence.
    No claims are being made here other than the impossibility of knowing the "wider reality", and the possibility that the wider reality may be that we are all just brains in a vat. Do we exist as brains in a vat? It's a possibility? Is there any evidence for it? No. Is anyone claiming that we are brains in a vat? No.
    Does the paranormal exist? It's a possibility. Is there any evidence for it? No. Is anyone claiming that it does exist? Yes.

    Spot the difference?
     
  22. birch Valued Senior Member

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    Im not lambasting anything. Im playing devil's advocate to point out that the brain in a vat could be true but there is no evidence. Where is the inconsistency? Same for many things. Now connect the dots. Touche.
     
  23. birch Valued Senior Member

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    3,897
    Sorry, this is just quibbling. There isnt really a difference. You dont know the wider reality of the paranormal or tarot cards etc either.

    Yes, some may believe something exists but the naysayers repeat its nonsense without proof. They cross that line just the same. Just like you are trying to get jan to admit he could be a brain in a vat or doesnt know he is and his logic is there is no evidence but there is evidence of his skull with a brain in it. Even, doctors and pathologists have actually removed brains and studied them. There is concrete proof, see?? Your favorite go-to type of knock on wood logic for ya! Whats funny and ironic is if this was about ghosts, it would be the same flavor and type of argument except the roles would be switched. Lol
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016

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