What is "real"?

#41
I agree, but there is no point in defining real to encompass things we cannot know.
I can agree that there might be "no point" but that is because human affairs have an emphasis towards utility. Since I took it to be a philosophical question about the possible *reality* of things, I do not see that the universe (or universes) operates according to our notions of utility for human beings.


And so then we will add it to the set of known real things.
But that's only the set that we are interested in by way of utility. It belonged to the set of real things, whether we were interested in them or not.

My definition is the real things are things that have some effect on other real things. I don't think using the word exist is useful.
But there's no actual definition. The requirement that something independently exists infers that said thing will be there whether you are or not, whether our perceptions are, or not, etc. It just does more philosophical work.

I agree that it is reasonable to say "There are probably things we don't know about that interact with things we do know about." From that it follows that those things are real.
I'm not saying that interaction isn't a useful notion. It is. Nonetheless, there could be things that don't interact with us, or even our entire experienced world, and yet still exist. I don't think that can be ruled out in some a priori sense, therefore interaction alone gives a definition that could not be formally complete.

We need to differentiate between the definition of real and the sets of known real things and hypothesized real things.
Why? That's again an epistemic issue, which is only of concern if we want to know what we can know, rather than wanting to know what *could* exist.
 
#42
In her " Lifting the veil : the feminine face of science " book ( A neo-feminist post-colonial philosophy of science and ethics...) , Linda Jean Shepherd talked about the following experiment or method to tame elephants in India :

New born elephants learn to "behave " by tying them up to soft leafs through soft ropes .
When they grown up and when one would try to tie them up to a strong tree through strong metal chains ,they immediately try to liberate themselves violently by breaking those strong chains and even those strong trees.

But when one would tie up those grown -up elephants to soft leafs via soft ropes as they were conditioned to be , they never make the slightest effort to liberate themselves from those soft 'chains " .

In short :

We are all more or less some forms of tamed elephants by our own cultures , nurture , education, environment , relative knowledge , experiences ...but , we can try to go beyond that conditioning by learning to look at "reality " differently beyond the above conditioning factors ,from ...within , by getting to know the self and hence by learning to let go of the false illusory ego= the ultimate reality is also within as well as without , but we can approach it only from within , beyond thought and beyond the limitations of the body and brain = that's a way to ...enlightenment , grosso -modo .

The limited rational empirical science as well as rational analytical philosophy will not get you there thus = learn to achieve pure awareness , beyond ...thought and body = that's where the ultimate reality is hidden .
 
Last edited:
#43
Reality and consciousness are inseparably and inescapably intertwined with each other ,since all we can know , feel, taste , hear , smell, touch ,see , think , sense or perceive... thus is a matter of the mutual interactions of consciousness with its 'outer " environment , including its physical brain .

We can only know what consciousness can reveal , even through science .The latter that cannot exist , let alone function or progress without consciousness .

We cannot step outside of consciousness either , so to speak , to study it and discover what reality might be ,since reality is inseparable from consciousness .

Reality does thus depend on one's own conception of the mind -body problem , in a nutshell .
Materialists would say that consciousness is just the product of brain activity , and hence all is matter , including the mind = only the physical reality is real .

Non-materialists would argue differently by embracing both the physical and the immaterial in nature and beyond as ...being real .

Take your pick .
 
#44
Why do I have to have your experience in order to claim that it has objective existence? Evidence for objective existence doesn't require being or experiencing the thing under study. It just requires reasonably replicable observation of correlates of the thing. I can't see gravity or mass, but they have objective existence.

To be "objective" means existing independent of thought or an observer. How could subjective experience exist independent of thought? And you are basically dismissing the Hard Problem, claiming that consciousness is understood at a fundamental level as either a "thing" or as a process involving "things". Unfortunately for that claim, actually consciousness, subjective experience, is a persistent mystery that modern science does not understand. And there is no solution in sight. Probably the major reason for this is that the essence of experiencing something is an entirely different, unique, category of being than the things, forces, and energies (including gravity) of objective reality that science can observe and measure. Physicist James Trefil on the Hard Problem: "It is the only major question in the sciences that we don't even know how to ask."
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#47
To be "objective" means existing independent of thought or an observer.
I'm not sure that's a useful definition in the context of science. Since we can't know what things exist and what they are like without observing them, nothing is objective under that definition. A more useful definition is something about the effects of the thing occurring without observation.

And you are basically dismissing the Hard Problem, claiming that consciousness is understood at a fundamental level as either a "thing" or as a process involving "things". Unfortunately for that claim, actually consciousness, subjective experience, is a persistent mystery that modern science does not understand. And there is no solution in sight. Probably the major reason for this is that the essence of experiencing something is an entirely different, unique, category of being than the things, forces, and energies (including gravity) of objective reality that science can observe and measure. Physicist James Trefil on the Hard Problem: "It is the only major question in the sciences that we don't even know how to ask."
I'm not sure why you think I'm dismissing the hard problem based on what I said. I simply don't think that consciousness is entirely subjective. And, as I said, why would we assume that someday we cannot experience another person's consciousness?

~~ Paul
 
#49
And, as I said, why would we assume that someday we cannot experience another person's consciousness?
Because this problem is not empirical but conceptual: if someday we experience another person's consciousness, then it will not be another consciousness, but our own, so it is conceptually impossible experience another person's consciousness.
 
#50
If a thing does not interact with us in any way, directly or indirectly, then why would we say that thing exists?
Because the thing could interact with us. For example: It seems clear that there may be planets that never relate to us, but they no less real. The difference between these planets and the Death Star is that under certain conditions we could perceive these planets, but we can only perceive the model representing the Death Star.
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#51
Because this problem is not empirical but conceptual: if someday we experience another person's consciousness, then it will not be another consciousness, but our own, so it is conceptually impossible experience another person's consciousness.
Yes, in the sense that all our experiences are our own. But if I can experience a reasonably accurate mapping of your consciousness onto mine, that makes your consciousness quite objective.

~~ Paul
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#52
Because the thing could interact with us. For example: It seems clear that there may be planets that never relate to us, but they no less real. The difference between these planets and the Death Star is that under certain conditions we could perceive these planets, but we can only perceive the model representing the Death Star.
Distant planets do interact with us. We can, for example, detect them with the appropriate instruments. So I agree that they are real.

As I said, it is certainly the case that there are real objects that we do not know about. But as soon as you propose an object that cannot interact with us even in principle, then we might as well say that object does not exist. If, on the other hand, you propose an interesting sort of object that sounds whacky but can interact with us, then I'm happy to say that object might turn out to be real some day.

~~ Paul
 
#53
Thanks for the thought brah. On this topic I've been and remain very chill. You OTOH not so much. You've taken a simple question about "what do you mean when you use a term" and turned it into a convoluted "philosophical treatise". And no I haven't read the rest of your reply. Way too long for this topic.
 
#54
Thanks for the thought brah. On this topic I've been and remain very chill. You OTOH not so much. You've taken a simple question about "what do you mean when you use a term" and turned it into a convoluted "philosophical treatise". And no I haven't read the rest of your reply. Way too long for this topic.
Get real , brah lol . Your question was not that simple anyway .
 
#55
This thread I am dutifully avoiding given the nonsense one has to deal with Skeptics daily. A thread asking what is "real" is like adding gasoline to the fire. Anything can be claimed, and anything can be attacked as soon as you say it. Good luck kids!

My Best,
Bertha
 
#57
This thread I am dutifully avoiding given the nonsense one has to deal with Skeptics daily. A thread asking what is "real" is like adding gasoline to the fire. Anything can be claimed, and anything can be attacked as soon as you say it. Good luck kids!

My Best,
Bertha
Once again you are misrepresenting (or possibly misunderstanding, if it is not deliberate) what was posted. The OP did not ask "what is real" but asked: what is your definition of the word "real".

This forum is filled with terms that people have widely different definitions for. So it may be that two people can have an argument over whether X is real - but have completely different criteria for the evaluation. They will therefore be talking past one another.

I laud the objective of the OP - but as some have suggested, not only can one poster have a different definition of real than another poster, the same poster can have different definitions of real depending on the context of the discussion.

I've said this before that the more practical solution is for people to provide brief definitions in their posts.
 
Top