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Objective Reality

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Someone on a philosophy forum posted this as a critique of objective reality... or rather out ability to perceive it.

Objectivist: There is a radical division between the subject and the object. The subject (we) knows by receiving the perceptions that he gets from the object,

transforming them into ideas and then stablishing relations between

those ideas. *see attachment 1

Me: Ok. And is that itself a fact?

Objectivist: Yes

Me: Well, and how do you know that? Wouldn't you need to be in a "middle" point between the subject and the object? Wouldn't you need to "get out of yourself and of your perceptions" in order to see if they really reflect an objective world? *see attachment 2

Objectivist: Yes

Me: And can we do that?

Objectivist: *silence*

Me: So wouldn't you rather say that the basis of your position is a belief, not a fact?

Objectivist: Apparently yes

My personal position is that one. That we believe in an objective, external world, while being aware of the apparent imposibility to prove it.

What I mean when saying that "to prove the existence of facts you would have to be out of yourself" is nothing else than this: that you have to leave your perceptions behind, go beyond them and verify if they do reflect existent things

(objective things). A journey that takes us past our limits (perceptions), in order to verify the correspondence between our perceptions and the "things in themselves", would require us to not being ourselves, which is rationally impossible.

And to be honest I can't think of a response. Could someone clarify this?

P.S.: I think there should be a thread where people can post simple questions about objectivism so we don't feel strange cluttering the forum with this kind of things :thumbsup:

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He is attacking a strawman. An Objectivist would not answer "yes" to the second set of questions.

It's not that it is "impossible" to prove an objective reality - it is that it is *nonsensical* to even consider such a feat, let alone to believe it to be a necessary requirement for truth and certainty. The idea of "proof" assumes an objective reality that can be known and understood.

His argument against objective reality consists of words. Those words refer to concepts, which have as their ultimate referents objects in reality. Any statement claiming to refute objective reality must necessarily utilize and assume objective reality.

The moment he opens his mouth and utters a word, or types a word on a keyboard, in order to communicate a meaningful statement to you, he assumes an objective reality that can be known and understood.

Edited by brian0918

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Hm... I should have seen that :dough:

Thank you very much the quick answer!

Not being able to respond to these kind of claims kind of reminds me of when I was so unsure about capitalism that every seemingly intelegent critique of it swayed me. Well I'll be aiming to improve on philosophy now.

On a side note: Is this section of the forum meant for such simple questions or is it better not to clutter it?

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To add to what has already been said, think about what this person is actually proposing when they say that what would be required would be to "step outside of our own perspective." How would someone in that position get any information about the world? Well, they would have to have some kind of sensory mechanism which interacted deterministically with the world. For example, how would someone in such a position know that a chair emitted photons of a certain wavelength? They would need a sensor which took in photons and gave out that information.

So once that's established, think about how your mind actually gets information. A sensory mechanism which interacts deterministically with the world is exactly what we as humans possess. Our body takes in sensations deterministically, and integrates them into percepts deterministically. Only then are they presented to a volitional mind. From that point on, we can make mistakes in attaining knowledge, but the initial stages leading up to percepts are as deterministic as any machine. For example, our eyes take in photons (from that same chair, let's say) and then our mind is presented with percepts formed automatically from these photons (in the case of the photon wavelength from the chair, the output from our sensory organs is 'color'). Color is simply the form in which we perceive wavelength (differences in color are simply how difference in wavelength appear to us, due to the nature of our eyes and brain). You cannot choose to see a different color than you do from the chair, or to alter incoming perceptions in any other way. All that you have control over with your sensory organs is where and how much to focus them. There is simply no room for distortion, only processing of a certain and definite nature.

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What about determining the sanity of the mind observing reality?

For example, homeless guys walking down to the street talking to someone who's not there. To them, it's reality. They see someone. Obviously we know it's not real.

But what's to prevent someone from making the argument that things we percieve as reality could also be manifestations of our mind?

Also, when he said that we would need to step outside of ourselves, wouldn't a simpler way to confirm reality be to ask the person next to you if they are observing the same reality?

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What about determining the sanity of the mind observing reality?

For example, homeless guys walking down to the street talking to someone who's not there. To them, it's reality. They see someone. Obviously we know it's not real.

But what's to prevent someone from making the argument that things we percieve as reality could also be manifestations of our mind?

Also, when he said that we would need to step outside of ourselves, wouldn't a simpler way to confirm reality be to ask the person next to you if they are observing the same reality?

I'm interested in the answer to this question as well.

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For example, homeless guys walking down to the street talking to someone who's not there. To them, it's reality. They see someone.

They see someone? They actually see someone? Can they objectively demonstrate that they actaully see someone?

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I'm interested in the answer to this question as well.

The law of identity is an axiom that is implicit in any claim to knowledge, so you cannot escape the objectivity of reality, or the primacy of existence principle.

This is a popular argument "argument from insanity" akin to the "argument from hallucinations" and "argument from dreams" etc. Aristotle already dispatched it ages ago. First, insanity is not caused by the sense organs, but it is internally within the brain, caused by the law of identity and causality. Secondly then, the argument is invalid because it assumes that which it attempts to disprove, since it would otherwise have no way of knowing there is any distinction between such things as "sane" and "insane" if one could not have a means of awareness of an antecedent objective reality. So the claim is thus a self-contradiction.

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What about determining the sanity of the mind observing reality?

For example, homeless guys walking down to the street talking to someone who's not there. To them, it's reality. They see someone. Obviously we know it's not real.

But what's to prevent someone from making the argument that things we perceive as reality could also be manifestations of our mind?

The question is a little ambiguous, so I'll cover all the bases.

1. If you mean "make the argument that all the things we perceive as reality are...": That claim would imply a definition of the speaker: 'he who isn't conscious of anything'. But the claim also implies that he is conscious of himself (the use of the word "I" or "we" implies that). Obvious contradiction.

2. If you mean "all the things except the existence of our consciousness..", Ayn Rand wrote in Galt's speech: "A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something." That makes sense. How would a consciousness identify itself for what it is (a consciousness), if it wasn't conscious of anything? When a human identifies himself as a conscious being, that's due to him observing his consciousness at work (becoming conscious of lights, sounds, etc).

Even a crazy person can't invent the notion of his own consciousness out of thin air. He too had to be conscious of some part of reality at some point. Someone who's never perceived anything about reality has no consciousness. I guarantee you that he won't make any arguments containing the word "I", or any other words that reference the reality he's never perceived.

3. If you mean that we could perceive some things as reality, even though they don't exist, that's obviously true. Mental illness and the breakdown of sensory organs are both possible. It is something we must guard against just acting on, without any critical thought about what we're perceiving.

Also, when he said that we would need to step outside of ourselves, wouldn't a simpler way to confirm reality be to ask the person next to you if they are observing the same reality?

Asking the person next to you is not a good way to validate your sanity. If you're hallucinating, the person next to you is probably a hallucination too. But, if watching A Beautiful Mind has taught us anything, it's that he'll pretend you're perfectly sane and working with the government to defeat the Russians.

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The question is a little ambiguous, so I'll cover all the bases.

1. If you mean "make the argument that all the things we perceive as reality are...": That claim would imply a definition of the speaker: 'he who isn't conscious of anything'. But the claim also implies that he is conscious of himself (the use of the word "I" or "we" implies that). Obvious contradiction.

2. If you mean "all the things except the existence of our consciousness..", Ayn Rand wrote in Galt's speech: "A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something." That makes sense. How would a consciousness identify itself for what it is (a consciousness), if it wasn't conscious of anything? When a human identifies himself as a conscious being, that's due to him observing his consciousness at work (becoming conscious of lights, sounds, etc).

Even a crazy person can't invent the notion of his own consciousness out of thin air. He too had to be conscious of some part of reality at some point. Someone who's never perceived anything about reality has no consciousness. I guarantee you that he won't make any arguments containing the word "I", or any other words that reference the reality he's never perceived.

3. If you mean that we could perceive some things as reality, even though they don't exist, that's obviously true. Mental illness and the breakdown of sensory organs are both possible. It is something we must guard against just acting on, without any critical thought about what we're perceiving.

Asking the person next to you is not a good way to validate your sanity. If you're hallucinating, the person next to you is probably a hallucination too. But, if watching A Beautiful Mind has taught us anything, it's that he'll pretend you're perfectly sane and working with the government to defeat the Russians.

Differential multiplicity is primary. Wittgenstein's path shows that whether or not reality consists of substance(s), these substances are not replicated in our minds. Thought is not made up of substances, but of differences. There is ultimately no grounding correct thought, but constructed styles or games of limitless relations prospering in usefulness. Between isolated sources of differentiation, performative actions prosper in mutual usefulness. Communication differentiates itself, creating an idealisation of its participants. There is no essential individual (nor an essential object of consciousness), the notion is a incessantly projected ideal when participating in society.

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