Metaphysical idealism

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Metaphysical idealism

Postby davidm on October 20th, 2018, 2:42 pm 

Metaphysical idealism is the idea that mental states are the primary, or even the only, reality. The idea goes back centuries and takes many forms. Broadly, one could divide it into the more moderate epistemological idealism, which holds that what we can know about the external world is, of necessity, mental (think Kant and some modern interpretations of quantum mechanics and of science itself) and ontological idealism, more extreme, which holds that mental states are all that exist.

Rather than rehash the whole history of this, which goes back at least to Berkeley (esse est percipi), I thought I’d start with a modern take, The Case Against Reality.

The author, the cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman, calls his philosophy not metaphysical idealism, but conscious realism, and says:

As a conscious realist, I am postulating conscious experiences as ontological primitives, the most basic ingredients of the world. I’m claiming that experiences are the real coin of the realm. The experiences of everyday life—my real feeling of a headache, my real taste of chocolate—that really is the ultimate nature of reality.


Notice, in this interview, his take on how evolution selects not for truth about the world, but for fitness, and his claim that they are not the same thing. I was taken (not persuaded) by this idea, and it seems to align with something Plantinga argued, but I’ll have to reacquaint myself with Plantinga’s specific argument.
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Re: Metaphysical idealism

Postby TheVat on October 20th, 2018, 4:07 pm 

Dave_C had a Donald Hoffman thread a couple years ago, which I'll link just as a bit of site bibliography.

viewtopic.php?nomobile=1&f=10&t=30678

Will get back to this tomorrow I hope. Ontological idealism has never struck me as coherent, but I need to delve more into it. My questions are primitive at this stage, e. g. how would you differentiate between ghosts and living people?
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Re: Metaphysical idealism

Postby -1- on October 20th, 2018, 10:58 pm 

Braininvat » October 20th, 2018, 4:07 pm wrote:I hope. Ontological idealism has never struck me as coherent, but I need to delve more into it. My questions are primitive at this stage, e. g. how would you differentiate between ghosts and living people?

What you see is what you get. If you think the apparition is alive, s/he is a living person. If your impression is that the apparition is a ghost, that's what it is.

No tools of differentiation are needed. You are the only judge of your world, because that's the only world that exists. (In ontological surrealism.)
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Re: Metaphysical idealism

Postby edy420 on December 4th, 2018, 4:15 am 

Our senses are all we have to percieve the universe. Unfortunately the percaption is false which gives us an inaccurate bias.

People really believe the grass is green, yet scientific understanding of how light works tells us it is not actually green, it just appears that way. The grass is actually less green, because it reflects that colour and absorbs the others.

The same with the atoms in our hand. They make us believe that our hand is 100% solid but with atomic knowledge we see that our hand is mostly nothingness.

We have no idea what the universe actually is. Because our perception is false, for all we know, the universe is just a thought in God's infinite mind and we are a part of it.

In the article, he talks about not needing to know all the unimportant bits about our reality. Ie the senses and information that evolution felt we didn't need. My question is, what would it serve us if we did know.
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Re: Metaphysical idealism

Postby ontological_realist on December 4th, 2018, 10:22 pm 

Hello edy420,

You wrote, "We have no idea what the universe actually is"

Probably.

"The same with the atoms in our hand. They make us believe that our hand is 100% solid but with atomic knowledge we see that our hand is mostly nothingness."

How did this atomic knowledge come about? Without perception?
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Re: Metaphysical idealism

Postby edy420 on December 5th, 2018, 12:09 am 

Hi ontological_realist,

The article in the OP is an interesting read, and makes me realise the importance of distinguishing the different perspectives of reality. It seams like the multiple dimensions that make up our reality are all independant of each other, but at the same time rely on each other to operate. David Hoffman presents a nice analogy that demonstrates this.

Suppose there’s a blue rectangular icon on the lower right corner of your computer’s desktop — does that mean that the file itself is blue and rectangular and lives in the lower right corner of your computer? Of course not. But those are the only things that can be asserted about anything on the desktop — it has color, position, and shape. Those are the only categories available to you, and yet none of them are true about the file itself or anything in the computer. They couldn’t possibly be true. That’s an interesting thing. You could not form a true description of the innards of the computer if your entire view of reality was confined to the desktop. And yet the desktop is useful


Here we see multiple dimensions that co-exist, but simultaneously exist independently. The third dimension that we perceive, shows that a blue folder exists, and it is useful to us. How ever the computer (/universe) doesn't need to know about the folder or the fact that it's blue. To the computer, its perception is of the first dimension which is binary, 101100101. Blue folders do not matter to the computer, but the code does. Likewise, we can not look at the raw binary code and see a blue folder. We need a filter that breaks down the binary code into something useful to us.

Comparing this analogy to our perception of reality, we exist in the third dimension. Atomic structure is as useful to us as is binary code, it's predominantly useless for my survival, existence and day to day life. But at the same time I can not exist without it.

So in reality,
The first dimension is atomic structure.
The third dimension is where we exist and interact.

Each dimension has it's own set of rules so then I was wrong to take the understanding of atomic theory and apply it to me because of the fact that I operate in the third dimension.

So then it is wrong to say our univerwe is one or the other. It is more than just a metaphysical ideology. Or more accurately it is both metaphysical and materialistic in the same instance.
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Re: Metaphysical idealism

Postby BadgerJelly on December 5th, 2018, 4:59 am 

Reality is a subjective word used to frame an intersubjective realisation. Words are words, and “experience” is a word used to intimate something and by intimating it with a “word” we gain a certain degree of underdtanding it. What it is the “word” frames will differ subtlely (or not) from person to person - thus reality is shifting and by “shifting” I only know what I mean as a “useful” outline that has meaning among a collection of thoughts and other understandings.

The understandings of words doesn’t encapsulate anything more than a grasping motion we call “thought” - and by thought I am not necessarily referring to “verbal” thought, merely as a means of recognising changes and apparent patterns within the changes that we adhere to as “real” (imbued with a communicative verbal language or not).

The point of “idealism” and “empiricism” is merely a setting out of poles in order to understand a field of thought rather than to abide to either one or the other as “correct” or “incorrect.” Our binary view of the world - logical methodology - works enough to allow us to question. If we can pose a question, verbally or not, then we basically appreciate in some form or another that a problem is before us (adn if there isn’t a problem then the problem is that we don’t have a problem and we’d cease to “know” - meaning “question” - anything).

Words can be confusing. They are limited though. Don’t get caught up needlessly in pretend problems simply because you’re driven to seek out problems. Find smaller more manageable problems at lower levels and accumulate them. It seems to me that by doing this they reveal nothgin more than a hall of mirrors that makes one problem appear to be many.

What “use” you find in this little post will be what it will be for you in the given moment. It can beseen as a dismissive response, it may repulse you, it may not even register as worth your effort reading hence you’re likely not reading this.

My advise would be to not treat massive questions regarding the nature of reality with any hope of promise. We don’t even know what an “idea” is once we get to the nitty gritty of “meaning” - hence my talk of “questions” as “reality.” What a “question” is is also a pretend question because the ontological path of the question only appears to begin with verbal language and can only be verbally understood as a part of language which is an overlay intrisic to our perpcetion of being.

All ideas are founded on metaphysical propositions to some degree or another (depending upon your lexicon) including empiricism, idealism, physicalism, absolutism, etc.,. Even the idea of “realism” is deeply misleading in this manner if take as having an actual grounding in our X (X meaning what we vaguely frame as “conscoiusness” and/or “being”).

To sum up there is not a great deal more to say here unless the bondaries of the discussipn are more clearly defined and any attempt to have a “discussion” about meaning beyond language - which is the embedded proposal within the OP - is going to continue in the usual navel gazing and tail chasing taken on by philosophers who refuse to address what they actually hope to achieve rather than to blindly flail around clutching at words as if they hold some immediate essence.

What is philosophy other than an exploration of language, a means of posing ethical propositions for public regard, and a purposeful avoidance of mathematics and art? Nothing imo.
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Re: Metaphysical idealism

Postby -1- on December 5th, 2018, 6:33 am 

While I agree with everything you say, BadgerJelly, I must also say that there could be and are some propositions which we can choose to believe. We can choose to believe that reality is closed for us, or we can choose to believe that reality is actually how we sense it.

Scientists choose the second option. Philosophers can't choose, they are ambivalent and are still trying to find a way of any sense of certainty to choose. I don't know how spiritualists/ religionists relate to the inscrutability of reality's existence. I tend to believe that religions believe that our sensed reality is real, and there are more realities than the real world, so to speak (the super-real, or supernatural).
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Re: Metaphysical idealism

Postby ontological_realist on December 6th, 2018, 11:45 pm 

Hello edy420, You wrote,

"The article in the OP is an interesting read, and makes me realise the importance of distinguishing the different perspectives of reality."

Reality does not have perspectives, Different perceivers have different perspectives OF reality. I tend to agree with the article in the OP that reality in itself can not be known by knowing human perspective OF reality.
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Re: Metaphysical idealism

Postby edy420 on December 7th, 2018, 3:22 am 

I find it inconceivable to try understand our universe from a human perspective. Based on senses alone. Back to the computer analogy, it's like a computer game character trying to discover that he is really just a bunch of 1s and 0s on a pc hard drive, it's not possible. He is limited to his senses which can not bear witness to his universes true identity.

Trying to understand the universe to our full potential is pointless. We don't have the tools to perceive it for what it is. We may only perceive the universe for what we believe it to be. Some believe it's just a cluster of atoms, while others think there is more to it.

My hand is 99% empty space as is proven by science. Yet I believe there is no room in my hand for anything else. Factually speaking, there is more room in my 3rd dimensional hand for a 4th dimensional spirit than I believe with my own eyes and sense of touch. Bit that's another topic
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Re: Metaphysical idealism

Postby -1- on December 7th, 2018, 6:45 am 

ontological_realist » December 6th, 2018, 11:45 pm wrote:Hello edy420, You wrote,

"The article in the OP is an interesting read, and makes me realise the importance of distinguishing the different perspectives of reality."

Reality does not have perspectives, Different perceivers have different perspectives OF reality. I tend to agree with the article in the OP that reality in itself can not be known by knowing human perspective OF reality.

English is tricky. "Of" can mean "belonging to" and it can mean "about", "over".

"The Voice of America" == of is used to denote possession. It's not the voice about America.

"Tales of Topographic Oceans" == of is used as about. It is not the tales that the Topographic Oceans regale.

So when Edy420 wrote "perspectives of reality" he may have meant to use the preposition "of" in the same sense as you have done in your correction of Edy420, when you also wrote "perspective OF reality".

You, ontological_realist, took it for granted that when Edy420 used "of" he meant possession, and when you used it, you took it for granted that the reader will understand that you meant it as in "about, over".

Why did you do that? Haven't you noticed you used the precisely same construct as Edy420? And if you noticed that, why did you assume that Edy420 used the construct in a different sense from how you used it?
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Re: Metaphysical idealism

Postby ontological_realist on December 7th, 2018, 8:45 pm 

Hi edy420, You wrote,

"I find it inconceivable to try understand our universe from a human perspective. Based on senses alone."

Human perspective does not employ only human senses. Human perspective comes from all human faculties of cognition including thinking,reasoning and memory etc. and much more.

All scientific knowledge is human knowledge and is from human perspective. Whatever humans know about atoms and subatomic particles is from human perspective only. It is from the stand point of humans. It is not some sort of absolute knowledge coming from a view from nowhere.

You wrote, " trying to understand the universe to our full potential is pointless. We don't have the tools to perceive it for what it is. We may only perceive the universe for what we believe it to be."

Well, I would like to put it this way:-

Looking to science to tell us truth about what really exists is pointless. As we don't have the tools to perceive it for what it is. We can perceive it only as it appears to us.
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Re: Metaphysical idealism

Postby -1- on December 8th, 2018, 12:26 am 

ontological_realist » December 7th, 2018, 8:45 pm wrote:Hi edy420, You wrote,

"I find it inconceivable to try understand our universe from a human perspective. Based on senses alone."

Human perspective does not employ only human senses. Human perspective comes from all human faculties of cognition including thinking,reasoning and memory etc. and much more.

True. But Edy420 was right. Our, humans', perception is BASED on sensory data. Edy420 never denied that our human perspective employs thinking,reasoning, memory; your negating something he did not say. Basically, a Strawman fallacy in your argument, while your argument was valid too.

You are right, too, human perception employs many things, and comes form many sources, but it is sourced basically on the senses. I don't think there was anything wrong with what Edy420 said.
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