Breaking the "Literal Reality" addiction.

#1
This is a split off from another thread, where this concept was introduced, but which was probably a distraction or offshoot within the context of that thread.



The idea that the world is “literally real” is part of our psychological inheritance. Most of us, whether we are aware of it or not, subjectively take this for granted, just as we do eating or breathing, as it seems to be something about the world that “doesn’t need questioning.”

But I think it does need questioning, because it’s a concept, and like all concepts, it can be mistaken, or be a rude approximation to the truth only. There’s no doubt that this model of looking at the world has been very helpful, at the pragmatic level, in multiple ways. Indeed, so long as one is willing to “quarantine” the world into a (relatively) safe subset of itself, it’s been a thoroughly productive thing to do. When dealing with weeds in the yard, a blocked drain, or white blood cell count, this model of reality, or this abstraction of what reality is, functions at its best. The idea, in other words, that there is a truly, independent, “objective” non-awareness-bearing “substance” out there that is responsible for reality being what reality is.

But what if reality is not a “thing” that is “out there” but is more in the fashion of a “conversation” or a “behavior.” What would it mean, or what does it mean, to imply that reality is a function or a behavior or a “conversation” rather than a thing?

The problem with the literal reality model is that , while it functions well enough for that limited subset of (relatively primitive) world behaviors, it has proved itself next to no use at all for all of the world of human action, the imagination and creativity, the psychological and emotional, love, poetry, story, myth, experience normal or paranormal.

And that’s a serious problem, because in all of that is most of what life *actually is*. The truth of the matter is that chemical interactions, traditionally conceived, had very little to do with the main benefits or main problems I now experience in my life. I don’t say they have nothing *at all* to do with them, but I do say that it is scarcely sensible to talk about career choices, creative enterprises, relationship issues and other things as if we are talking about colliding chemicals. Indeed, I would argue that to do so is simply an error that leads to the greatest of absurdities.

But an explanation of the world in which most of the experienced world is left out can hardly be called an explanation at all. Even at the supposed primitive level of “atoms and molecules” when we press into that far enough it begins to evaporate into the bizarre narratives of the quantum realm. Whatever view one might take on the “reality” of that realm, it seems plain enough that it requires a narrative investment of interpretation and perception to understand, in an important sense even to “see” it at all, and that is no minor complication of the simple objectivized reality model.

If that can happen even with the primitives, then it is striking how much *more* so it is the case with more fluid, more liquid aspects of reality’s behavior. Take the reality of a story, for instance. Most of us would assume that such a thing does indeed exist in some sense, even if to the objectivized model the nature in which it is said to exist soon degenerates into absurdity and contradiction. In other words, assigning it to one or another rationalization of “unreal” despite the fact that they have real consequences in life ever bit as solid as “atoms and molecules.” But if stories are real, what is this saying about their reality, and perhaps about reality in general? A story that isn’t involved in any tellings would be a curious object. It wouldn’t really be a story at all. In fact, it would be meaningless to call it that. A story is something that is a telling. It’s essentially a feature of a kind of conversation that is irreducible in character. And that conversation is involved with consciousness.

Consciousness itself, its perceptions, emotions, beliefs, is in some respects like story. It doesn’t really make sense to talk about “consciousness” existing in a pure state, anymore than it makes sense to talk of story existing in a pure state. Consciousness is something that exists in the doing, in a circuit of experience and perception, just as a story is something that exists in the telling, in a circuit of speaking and listening (or reading and listening, etc).

But I don’t think that this is just mere talk. My suspicion is that these more ‘liquid” functions of our world and experience are actually the reality function, so to speak, disclosing itself more akin to *what it actually is* and the reason we haven’t been able to make sense of it, is that we have tried to map our primitives concept of atoms and molecules onto them, when it is more likely, I think, that those primitives are themselves impoverished versions of the same more liquid reality function. When even the nature of atoms and molecules becomes a story that we have to “buy into” this is as good a sign as any that stock is overdue for resale at the literal reality store.

I haven’t dwelled on paranormal phenomena here, though I think they are part of this picture. How they fit into it I’m not exactly sure, but they do raise a question of how far the reality function is elastic to our choices of experience and perception.

Like crack or cocaine, the literal reality assumption may serve its users well, but with all addiction comes a price, and that price is usually a blindness to other possibility beyond the world of that addiction.
 
#2
Consciousness itself, its perceptions, emotions, beliefs, is in some respects like story. It doesn’t really make sense to talk about “consciousness” existing in a pure state, anymore than it makes sense to talk of story existing in a pure state. Consciousness is something that exists in the doing, in a circuit of experience and perception, just as a story is something that exists in the telling, in a circuit of speaking and listening (or reading and listening, etc).

But I don’t think that this is just mere talk. My suspicion is that these more ‘liquid” functions of our world and experience are actually the reality function, so to speak, disclosing itself more akin to *what it actually is* and the reason we haven’t been able to make sense of it, is that we have tried to map our primitives concept of atoms and molecules onto them, when it is more likely, I think, that those primitives are themselves impoverished versions of the same more liquid reality function. When even the nature of atoms and molecules becomes a story that we have to “buy into” this is as good a sign as any that stock is overdue for resale at the literal reality store.

I haven’t dwelled on paranormal phenomena here, though I think they are part of this picture. How they fit into it I’m not exactly sure, but they do raise a question of how far the reality function is elastic to our choices of experience and perception.
Have you ever looked at this?

http://hilgart.org/enformy/$wsr02.html

Consciousness cannot be understood in isolation of the wide range of other phenomena that share a common ontological root. Hence, a comprehensive theory of consciousness must explain, not only self-awareness, intention, sensation, perception, memory, cognition, learning, creativity, curiosity, and altered states, but life per se, quantum entanglement, telepathy, precognition, energy healing, the evolution of species, and the homing behavior of pigeons and other animals. A theory that describes this polymorphous set is founded on the concept that all of its elements are products of holistic systems. That is, a theory of consciousness is a general theory of organization and holistic systems. This paper describes the Theory of Enformed Systems (TES), a general theory of systems that explains all the elements of the set. Foundational to the theory is the fundamental, conserved, organizing principle, enformy—the capacity to organize—without which life and mentality would not be possible. The enformy posit and the Theory of Enformed Systems are essential elements for systemics, the science of holistic systems. Because systems are the objects of all scientific studies, systemics is the foundation of all scientific disciplines.
Apparently not a popular theory, but bears some resemblance to Sheldrake's Morphic Fields. What I do like about it is that it tries to address in a common way all known paranormal phenomena: psychic functioning, precognition, NDEs, reincarnation memories including full and partial (some of Stevenson's rare and odd cases), memories from transplanted organs, etc.

Cheers,
Bill
 
#3
What I do like about it is that it tries to address in a common way all known paranormal phenomena: psychic functioning, precognition, NDEs, reincarnation memories including full and partial (some of Stevenson's rare and odd cases), memories from transplanted organs, etc.
Ooops. Sorry Kai. What was I thinking. Ignore that part. I recall a 70 plus page thread where it was stated that none of that stuff exists ... AT ALL. :)

Cheers,
Bill
 
#4
This is a split off from another thread, where this concept was introduced, but which was probably a distraction or offshoot within the context of that thread.



The idea that the world is “literally real” is part of our psychological inheritance. Most of us, whether we are aware of it or not, subjectively take this for granted, just as we do eating or breathing, as it seems to be something about the world that “doesn’t need questioning.”

But I think it does need questioning, because it’s a concept, and like all concepts, it can be mistaken, or be a rude approximation to the truth only. There’s no doubt that this model of looking at the world has been very helpful, at the pragmatic level, in multiple ways. Indeed, so long as one is willing to “quarantine” the world into a (relatively) safe subset of itself, it’s been a thoroughly productive thing to do. When dealing with weeds in the yard, a blocked drain, or white blood cell count, this model of reality, or this abstraction of what reality is, functions at its best. The idea, in other words, that there is a truly, independent, “objective” non-awareness-bearing “substance” out there that is responsible for reality being what reality is.

But what if reality is not a “thing” that is “out there” but is more in the fashion of a “conversation” or a “behavior.” What would it mean, or what does it mean, to imply that reality is a function or a behavior or a “conversation” rather than a thing?

The problem with the literal reality model is that , while it functions well enough for that limited subset of (relatively primitive) world behaviors, it has proved itself next to no use at all for all of the world of human action, the imagination and creativity, the psychological and emotional, love, poetry, story, myth, experience normal or paranormal.

And that’s a serious problem, because in all of that is most of what life *actually is*. The truth of the matter is that chemical interactions, traditionally conceived, had very little to do with the main benefits or main problems I now experience in my life. I don’t say they have nothing *at all* to do with them, but I do say that it is scarcely sensible to talk about career choices, creative enterprises, relationship issues and other things as if we are talking about colliding chemicals. Indeed, I would argue that to do so is simply an error that leads to the greatest of absurdities.

But an explanation of the world in which most of the experienced world is left out can hardly be called an explanation at all. Even at the supposed primitive level of “atoms and molecules” when we press into that far enough it begins to evaporate into the bizarre narratives of the quantum realm. Whatever view one might take on the “reality” of that realm, it seems plain enough that it requires a narrative investment of interpretation and perception to understand, in an important sense even to “see” it at all, and that is no minor complication of the simple objectivized reality model.

If that can happen even with the primitives, then it is striking how much *more* so it is the case with more fluid, more liquid aspects of reality’s behavior. Take the reality of a story, for instance. Most of us would assume that such a thing does indeed exist in some sense, even if to the objectivized model the nature in which it is said to exist soon degenerates into absurdity and contradiction. In other words, assigning it to one or another rationalization of “unreal” despite the fact that they have real consequences in life ever bit as solid as “atoms and molecules.” But if stories are real, what is this saying about their reality, and perhaps about reality in general? A story that isn’t involved in any tellings would be a curious object. It wouldn’t really be a story at all. In fact, it would be meaningless to call it that. A story is something that is a telling. It’s essentially a feature of a kind of conversation that is irreducible in character. And that conversation is involved with consciousness.

Consciousness itself, its perceptions, emotions, beliefs, is in some respects like story. It doesn’t really make sense to talk about “consciousness” existing in a pure state, anymore than it makes sense to talk of story existing in a pure state. Consciousness is something that exists in the doing, in a circuit of experience and perception, just as a story is something that exists in the telling, in a circuit of speaking and listening (or reading and listening, etc).

But I don’t think that this is just mere talk. My suspicion is that these more ‘liquid” functions of our world and experience are actually the reality function, so to speak, disclosing itself more akin to *what it actually is* and the reason we haven’t been able to make sense of it, is that we have tried to map our primitives concept of atoms and molecules onto them, when it is more likely, I think, that those primitives are themselves impoverished versions of the same more liquid reality function. When even the nature of atoms and molecules becomes a story that we have to “buy into” this is as good a sign as any that stock is overdue for resale at the literal reality store.

I haven’t dwelled on paranormal phenomena here, though I think they are part of this picture. How they fit into it I’m not exactly sure, but they do raise a question of how far the reality function is elastic to our choices of experience and perception.

Like crack or cocaine, the literal reality assumption may serve its users well, but with all addiction comes a price, and that price is usually a blindness to other possibility beyond the world of that addiction.
KaI, you might want to contemplate this. http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/proving-the-immaterial-world.640/page-10#post-18240
 
#8
oh, I've contemplated that most of my life. I just don't think there's any way, no matter what tale we tell ourselves, that we can ever be certain that a world exists outside our envelope of all experience, and frankly, I don't know what the service is in believing something that can never, even in principle, be verified. Why would people want to do that? I can make just as effective a case, on all fronts I think, that the world is at base experiential.

This is not my only reason, of course. But it is one of them.
 
#9
oh, I've contemplated that most of my life. I just don't think there's any way, no matter what tale we tell ourselves, that we can ever be certain that a world exists outside our envelope of all experience, and frankly, I don't know what the service is in believing something that can never, even in principle, be verified. Why would people want to do that? I can make just as effective a case, on all fronts I think, that the world is at base experiential.

This is not my only reason, of course. But it is one of them.
Frankly, I don't find logical arguments by themselves the least bit convincing for one simple reason. Said arguments represent an opinionated perspective. Now if you could test your position that would go a long way to seeing if you are right. I think all philosophers should be willing to put their opinions to the test instead of having endless debate.
 
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#10
Well philosophies aren't really demonstrable things Steve, not in the manner of scientific demonstration anyway. And this applies to materialism no less than any other philosophical position. It comes down to a matter of which kind of stance finally gives a more complete account of reality, imo,.
 
#11
Well philosophies aren't really demonstrable things Steve, not in the manner of scientific demonstration anyway. And this applies to materialism no less than any other philosophical position. It comes down to a matter of which kind of stance finally gives a more complete account of reality, imo,.
That is it seems to be an insurmountable problem for philosophers. Science does have at its foundation materialistic (physicalistic) metaphysics, but do not confuse those terms with the modern physics definitions.

Physicists debate just as much amongst themselves, but do eventually find ways to test their ideas.
 
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#12
That is it seems to be an insurmountable problem for philosophers. Science does have at its foundation materialistic (physicalistic) metaphysics, but do not confuse those terms with the modern physics definitions.

Physicists debate just as much amongst themselves, but do eventually find ways to test their ideas.
Nevertheless, modern or historical, the idea that the world exists independently of experience is a supposed premise and not a fact in demonstration, or (I think) capable of demonstration. Moreover, that the facts unequivocally of experience do not find their explanation in such a world view is cause sufficient to question its continued usability...that is to say, if we really want to understand issues such as consciousness and experience.
 
#13
Nevertheless, modern or historical, the idea that the world exists independently of experience is a supposed premise and not a fact in demonstration, or (I think) capable of demonstration. Moreover, that the facts unequivocally of experience do not find their explanation in such a world view is cause sufficient to question its continued usability...that is to say, if we really want to understand issues such as consciousness and experience.
With this we must part company.
 
#16
Anyone or anything's experience, bishop.
Apologies if I'm not getting what you're suggesting here. It's totally possible (likely, rather) that your original post has flown way way over my head, but I really want to understand what you're saying. I find it extremely intriguing.

It seems to me that if you accept that any person (other than yourself) is conscious and then ceases to be conscious by dying or some other reason then the world clearly exists independently of experience; it exists independently of that person's experience.
 
#18
Apologies if I'm not getting what you're suggesting here. It's totally possible (likely, rather) that your original post has flown way way over my head, but I really want to understand what you're saying. I find it extremely intriguing.

It seems to me that if you accept that any person (other than yourself) is conscious and then ceases to be conscious by dying or some other reason then the world clearly exists independently of experience; it exists independently of that person's experience.
The outcome of what I'm suggesting is that experience cannot cease to exist. Whether it continues to exist "as that person" is another matter and adds on an assumption (which, taking the idea seriously, we might suppose to be either true or not true). In other words, the sum of all experience can never be a null, as it would collapse the function that reality actually is (again, according to the world view that I am here espousing). It has much in similarity to Galen Strawson's "experientiality" though he supposes that a dying human might "decompose" as it were experientially into basic kinds of experience. But whether *that* is true or not, I would have to take the view that upon death experience would find itself composted into a new form or aggregate of *some* kind. Basically, this is the view that we currently take about so-called "matter" so in its essence it shouldn't feel that much unfamiliar.
 
#19
The outcome of what I'm suggesting is that experience cannot cease to exist. Whether it continues to exist "as that person" is another matter and adds on an assumption (which, taking the idea seriously, we might suppose to be either true or not true). In other words, the sum of all experience can never be a null, as it would collapse the function that reality actually is (again, according to the world view that I am here espousing). It has much in similarity to Galen Strawson's "experientiality" though he supposes that a dying human might "decompose" as it were experientially into basic kinds of experience. But whether *that* is true or not, I would have to take the view that upon death experience would find itself composted into a new form or aggregate of *some* kind. Basically, this is the view that we currently take about so-called "matter" so in its essence it shouldn't feel that much unfamiliar.
I guess the answer to my earlier question on this thread in "no."

Cheers,
Bill
 
#20
The outcome of what I'm suggesting is that experience cannot cease to exist. Whether it continues to exist "as that person" is another matter and adds on an assumption (which, taking the idea seriously, we might suppose to be either true or not true).
Is it not patently obvious that experience can and does cease to exists when people lose consciousness? What other type of experience do you have in mind besides "as that person"? Perhaps you could clarify your use of "experience" in the context we're discussing.

In other words, the sum of all experience can never be a null, as it would collapse the function that reality actually is (again, according to the world view that I am here espousing).
If the initial premise is true, then yes. If experience can both exist or not exist, then perhaps not.

It has much in similarity to Galen Strawson's "experientiality" though he supposes that a dying human might "decompose" as it were experientially into basic kinds of experience. But whether *that* is true or not, I would have to take the view that upon death experience would find itself composted into a new form or aggregate of *some* kind. Basically, this is the view that we currently take about so-called "matter" so in its essence it shouldn't feel that much unfamiliar.
This does not seem like a stretch to me at all, but it would help me if we define "experience" with a little more clarity.
 
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