Is the world really what it seems?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Gregg Schaffter, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. Gregg Schaffter Registered Member

    I sometimes come to thoughts relating to how our world looks. A lot of people don't seem to consider the idea that maybe the world is not what it seems. What we perceive of color may not actually be color at all. How we think of matter may not be true.

    I just wanted potential thought on this. I mean, is it technically incorrect to think that our world is not what it seems? I think this is part of philosophical discussion, so I put it here.

    The question is: Is the world what it really seems to be? What is some thoughts from the people? Can't wait to hear some ideas.
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  3. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    This garden universe vibrates complete.
    Some we get a sound so sweet.
    Vibrations reach on up to become light,
    And then thru gamma, out of sight.
    Between the eyes and ears there lay,
    The sounds of colour and the light of a sigh.
    And to hear the sun, what a thing to believe.
    But it's all around if we could but perceive.
    To know ultra-violet, infra-red and X-rays,
    Beauty to find in so many ways.
    Two notes of the chord, that's our forscope.
    But to reach the chord is our lifes hope.
    And to name the chord is important to some.
    So they give a word, and the word is OM.
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    In the immortal words of Hamlet -
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
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  7. Gregg Schaffter Registered Member

    But, theoretically maybe more is actually less? An illusion to more is actually less than what it seems. For example, if I were to hold a chip in my hand, it could be that I actually have two chips in my hand or no chips in my hand at all.
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Oh well. Philosophers have been wondering about this for millennia ...
  9. Gerhard Kemmerer Banned Banned

    You can think of every human experience as an illusion, free will is an illusion I heard, some say faith is an illusion, and eventually your own reasoning is an illusion too, and we are all just living in la la land.

    A young man came to a wise old man for help, "Am I real or is this world just an illusion?"
    "Put your thumb on the edge of a table", said the old man, "and give it a good hit with the hammer, that'll give you some idea."
  10. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    A great deal of the Western philosophical tradition concerns itself with variants on that question.

    The phrase "how our world looks" might require some unpacking.

    We look at our environment and see stuff like the tables and the chairs. Then we say many different things about those objects, whether we are speaking internally to ourselves or vocally to others. And finally there's the more abstract conceptual scheme that allows us to name and to understand something about what we see. We know what 'tables' and 'chairs' are, we know what they are used for and (approximately) where they come from. We might even know the rudiments of what sciences like physics say about atoms and stuff.

    Some theorists might want to insert even more items in there, imagining that there's such a thing as a "look" (philosophers would call that an 'appearance' or a 'subjective representation'), in other words, that how something looks is itself an object in its own right, one that exists only inside our minds presumably, that's entirely separate from the thing that supposedly looks that way. (In this kind of scheme, the original 'external' object becomes kind of superfluous, an unknowable 'thing in itself'.)

    I think that the modern Western philosophical tradition has often insisted that 'secondary qualities' like colors have to be what they seem, because colors are (these philosophers insist) subjective experiential objects. There's no fact of the matter that can possibly differ from that experience so as to render it false.

    The question then is relating the mentally-generated secondary qualities like color to physical objects which supposedly aren't colored at all, objects which are just collections of atoms reflecting different wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation.

    That's one big source of ongoing difficulties in the philosophical tradition.

    And that suggests another, less philosophical and more scientific problem. Whenever scientists and other educated people set out to give an account of what it is that they see, and especially when they set about to explain it, they make use of concepts derived from their society and from their place in history. A string-theorist at CERN is going to give a very different account of matter than we might have heard from a professor in a medieval university or from a theorist in Plato's or Aristotle's academies in ancient Athens.

    So the obvious question arises: How much of what modern science says about the universe will still be said a thousand years from now? How much of it is actually... true? If it approximates to the truth, how close is that approximation?

    I think that it depends on how we interpret the question.

    My own view is that the vast majority of the universe simply is whatever it is, totally independent of what humans think or don't think about it. We possess very imperfect knowledge of one planet, but there are billions of galaxies out there. Whatever is happening on distant planets circling alien stars isn't dependent on what human beings think. We could all go extinct tomorrow and the universe wouldn't even notice.

    But given that fundamental realism, we still have the problem of making sense of it for our own purposes, for our own understanding. That account is always going to be a work-in-progress in my opinion, a never-ending succession of broader-views and closer-approximations.

    Right. Your question goes right to the heart of what philosophy, science and human understanding are all about.
  11. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member


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    Am eminently practical suggest to determine how the world 'feels' but will it truly address our perception of how it 'looks'?
  12. Gerhard Kemmerer Banned Banned

    Quite right, I should be more in tune with your initial post.

    Someone said to me that women see the world's colors better than men, and I disagreed, saying that my female friends saw colors more in the red spectrum than I. To which they said "how do you know you're not seeing off color?" and I replied "Didn't think of that!"
  13. R1D2 many leagues under the sea. Valued Senior Member

    Well you ever see the Matrix? Could be we are in a similar "matrix". An we are batteries.
    Stuff is not what you perceive.
  14. Gerhard Kemmerer Banned Banned

    What do you think about Yazata's post re western traditional views about color?
  15. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member

    The universe and everything in it is one, everything united and communicates and related (fact).

    I see the world as a one town, or a one group of people copied and pasted all over the earth, just like you copy and paste your files everywhere on your computer window, and only names are changed, people are like that, we are all the same, you cannot deny that, no difference between Americans, Africans, Arabs, or Asians, completly no difference, we all react the same way to the same conditions and the same situations, only colours and layers are different, there is no psycological treatement for Arabs and another kind of psycological treatement for Asians or Europeans and Africans.
    No matter how languages can differ, and cultures diversified, we are the same, just like you liking pop music, and your friend like rock or rap music.

    But most people don't see that, most people look at the other people from different countries as different, and inferior, or superior, or whatever, they never look at them as if they were other people from their same culture and etc..colours and the outside layers can deceive.

    The world is a messed up place with many secret agendas.
    The truth is classified, and lies are the truth.

    What can I say, the world is a horrible place if you take a good look.
    But it doesnt look horrible in your daily life, everyone just try to live.
  16. kx000 Valued Senior Member

    It depends entirely on who you ask.
  17. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    I see people as the same as me and treat them as I would like to be treated and respected.

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  18. Emil Valued Senior Member

    What is most important to you?
    How is the world in "reality" or how you perceive the world as reality?
    Problems can arise when two human beings perceive the same reality in two different ways.

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  19. LaurieAG Registered Senior Member

    That's what has caused all of our wars.

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