Objects out there

Discussion in 'Pseudoscience' started by Buket, Jul 19, 2016.

  1. Buket Registered Member

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    I asked a question to the physicist Fred Alan Wolf via email. He told me that objects out there do not exist. And in another email he said if two people see the same object then it exists. Isn't there a contradiction here?
     
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    You should not take his statement with its context. That is critical. For all we know, his context was astrophysics.

    Any one sighting can be an aberration. If an independent source corroborates it, that will (to some extent) rule out several possible erros in observation.
    There are myriad other ways to place his statement in possible contexts.
     
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    It's hard to comment without knowing the context.

    What is "out there"? Is he saying my computer doesn't exist because it is outside my mind? Or is he talking about stuff out in space somewhere? Or something else?

    There are a number of potential problems with that statement, but again it's hard to narrow down what he means without any context.
     
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  7. Buket Registered Member

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    Sorry instead of exist he said 'not real'.
     
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Logically speaking, not necessarily. On the face of it, it suggests that two people never see the same object. Because if they did, then the object would exist (#2) and "objects out there do not exist". (#1)

    #1 sounds like bullshit to me.

    #2 sounds like a quick and simple account of objectivity. If something is objective as opposed to subjective, it exists in the public world alongside everyone so to speak, not just for a particular individual who is experiencing it. (Tables and chairs are objective, dreams and hallucinations are subjective.)

    Modern philosophy has always had trouble with the objective world because most post-Cartesian philosophers have distinguished between experiences and the things that experiences supposedly refer to and represent. Experiences become peculiar kinds of mental objects in that scheme. And since our experience is supposedly only of our experiences, the existence of whatever the experiences are supposedly about ("things in themselves") becomes problematic. So there's a tendency to dismiss the objective world 'out there' (outside our individual heads).

    It's a little strange to see physicists doing that, since it would seemingly eliminate the physical world that physics is ostensibly about. It would leave physicists looking like the Cheshire-cat's grin in 'Alice', where the subject matter of their expertise has disappeared and all that's left is the supposed authority that their physics PhDs give them on what have become metaphysical matters.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2016
  9. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Which "out there" is he referring to? There are the immediate or commonsense external affairs which are brain-produced (your extrospective experiences); and those falling out of prolonged reasoning and / or experiments, which claim to constitute mind-independent versions of "out there". The latter shifts "real" to a metaphysical view, like a scientific realist stance which might assert that only microphysical entities and properties validly exist. To detour around such ontological feuds (stay within an epistemological refuge) you emphasize the inter-subjectivity of multiple people observing, encountering, or verifying the same object. You also make much hay over objects and events which defy your personal wishes (seem to follow objective principles / tendencies). In other words, this indicates they at least outrun your individual mind.

    John Gregg: I have argued that things are abstractions. We create all things, we infer unity and mid-level individuation in the world. Seen in this light, consciousness has a much bigger job than just painting the apple red. It must create reality much more broadly, including the apple itself. Just as there are no red photons, there are no rocks, cars, dogs, or numbers. Nature presents us with a wash of particles, a continuous flux of quantum stuff, and we overlay this flux with stories about cars and rocks. --Realism: To what extent is the world out there the way it seems?

    Erwin Schrodinger: The world is a construct of our sensations, perceptions, memories. It is convenient to regard it as existing objectively on its own. But it certainly does not become manifest by its mere existence. Its becoming manifest is conditional on very special goings-on in very special parts of this very world, namely on certain events that happen in a brain. That is an inordinately peculiar kind of implication, which prompts the question: What particular properties distinguish these brain processes and enable them to produce the manifestation? Can we guess which material processes have this power, which not? Or simple: What kind of material process is directly associated with consciousness? --What is Life? Mind and Matter
     
  10. Buket Registered Member

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    I could not understand what Gregg means by 'just as there are no red photons there are no rocks, dogs ...
     
  11. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

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    I think what he is saying is along these lines.
    There are no red photons, there are photons of a certain wavelength that our brains interpret as red.
    There are no rocks, there is a group of bound atoms and the electrons in those atoms absorb and reemit photons that our brain interpret as a rock. But to me the real point is that the rock is quite real. If you were to drop that group of bound atomic particles on your foot it would really hurt!
     
  12. Buket Registered Member

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    I understand. Then what does he mean by 'things are abstract'?
     
  13. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

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    I really do not know what his thinking is. His thinking seems a bit abstract to me...
     
  14. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Yes. It really must be taken in-context.

    For all we know he is saying "rocks are abstract" because - frankly, humans invented rocks - by labeling them and distinguishing them from the ground upon which they sit. As origin suggests, really all there is is atoms bound by forces. It is only us who decide that the collection of atoms on the "ground" and the collection of atoms in the "rock" are qualitatively different.
     
  15. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    We arguably summarize microscopic processes and events into single, empirical objects like a pond or vase. Certainly some (maybe much) of that simplification can be attributed to falling out of the properties of spatial relationships beforehand. But the limited brain would still prefer the synoptic conceptions of its awareness because such reduces the number of viewed / sensed, supposed individual things and divisions "out there", and thereby also the magnitude of their complexities that it has to deal with.

    We normally represent external affairs from the level of existence in which we seem to abide (not microscopic, not macrocosmic). We treat the divisions, borders, and categories we invent as if a mind-less world is doing the same. As if it agrees with us, despite the contradiction of a mind-less environment lacking both that psychological stance and the discriminations which consciousness makes.

    We discern clouds and galaxies as objects in their own right, despite their not being "solid" upon closer examination. Composed of an aggregate, community or system of smaller entities. They're as much summaries of collective activity / events as single individuals. Even with a telescope, the existence and identity of the Earth can be completely "swallowed up" under the galaxy's identity when viewed from outside it. IOW, our perceptions and approaches to classification (and what exists) are biased, again, from the level in which abide and our needs therein.

    Gregg might have been considering how even an ordinary object like a vase also doubles as a kind of abstract set (it's not just the "one" which it appears to be from our preferred stratum of observation, but also "many"). In the case of a vase all the members are neighbors, sharing and dominating the space of a particular empirical form rather than being scattered everywhere and intruding into other supposed "things", situations.

    But in contrast, take the discrete incidents / managements of goods and services and individual money transactions, that the brain can collectively conceive to an abstract entity properly studied by economics. The brain's sensory / cognitive / memory faculties integrate a variety of distributed activities and circumstance into a "general object" due to characteristics they have in common or because they might be tied together or deemed regulated by a common principle or principles.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2016
  16. Buket Registered Member

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    So what do you think about Fred Alan Wolf's words? And contradictions in his ideas?
     
  17. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Again: We need the details of his actual words.

    The succinct, sketchy anecdote of the first post is also insufficient for representing any of these mentioned "ideas".

    Given the privacy issues of email, is there something similar you could quote from his books of the '80s and '90s? The days of the "Fundamental Fysiks Group" is surely too long ago: Hippie days: How a handful of countercultural scientists changed the course of physics in the 1970s
     
  18. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Actually, I think he's saying there are no photons. Photons are a model of whatever it is that is happening "in reality". That model is a human construct, just like "rock" is a human construct.

    Yes.

    Then again, that "hurt" thing you're talking about is another abstraction - even moreso than the rock.
     
  19. danshawen Valued Senior Member

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    Fred Alan Wolf appears in the Encyclopedia of American Loons:

    http://americanloons.blogspot.com/2013/02/421-fred-alan-wolf.html

    He also appears most prominently (variously as 'Dr. Quantum' or "Captain Quantum") in the movie "What the Bleep Do We Know?".

    His most far-out ideas about consciousness as it relates to quantum physics appear to be poorly informed.
     
  20. Spellbound Banned Valued Senior Member

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    Yazata,

    The line between physics and metaphysics is increasingly becoming blurred. Thoughts would be objective if the inner mind were somehow revealed.
     
  21. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    That's a big IF.

    And since it's merely an if...
    is fortunately not true.
     

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