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mb121

"How do I know I'm not in the matrix?"

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OK so my friends "accept" the 3 axioms:

1) Existance exists

2) Concsiousness exists

3) Law of Identity

But then say we can't deduce from those that we don't live in the matrix - or to be more direct that "I'm taking an act of faith by trusting my perception." A classic example is when I cross the street because the light is red, I'm acting on faith that my perception and reason were correct that the line was red and no cars would come. They also say there are "other" forms of obtaining knowledge (revalation, the bible), and that just because those 3 axioms are true, it doesn't mean there is knowledge out there that I am incapable of perceiving or reasoning (ie, the existance of God).

Thus, let's say that no matter what I will never be able to perceive the existance of God (or deduce him rationally), but he DOES exist. Or, I live in the matrix, but I am incapable of perceiving the matrix or deducing from reason that I am in the matrix, but it DOES exist. What would objectivism have to say about these assertions?

Edited by mb121

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Thus, let's say that no matter what I will never be able to perceive the existance of God (or deduce him rationally), but he DOES exist. Or, I live in the matrix, but I am incapable of perceiving the matrix or deducing from reason that I am in the matrix, but it DOES exist. What would objectivism have to say about these assertions?

If this were the case, why would it matter? If the being in the matrix is indistinguishable from being in actual reality, what is the difference? If it isn't indistinguishable, you have your evidence, your perception. I am answering this as Shea Levy, not as a representative of Objectivism.

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There really is no answer to the Matrix (aka "brain in a jar") question. There is no good way to discover that you are indeed connected to the Matrix even if you were. This is a great "leap of faith" if you want to call it that in philosophy. You have to accept that what you experience is "reality" and that the beings and objects you percieve are independant and not products of your own mind. This is mainly because without this first leap, nothing else is possible. All mental effort, philosophy, thought, etc would be a dead end.

Edited by Vladimir Berkov

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This is a great "leap of faith" if you want to call it that in philosophy.

What? So you answer them with 'if you want to get anything done, you have to accept this philosophy"?

What's funny is that they implicitly accept this philosophy by continuing to cross the street when the light is red. What they'll then say is "well, if you accept faith here (the red-light scenario where you cross the street on faith that your perceptions are right), why not have faith in God?"

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What? So you answer them with 'if you want to get anything done, you have to accept this philosophy"?

I doubt Vladimir would consider himself as speaking from the Objectivist perspective.

What RB said...

Having "faith" in the evidence of the senses is a classic argument. The matrix or any other argument against reality is arbitrary. The evidence of the senses is not.

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I doubt Vladimir would consider himself as speaking from the Objectivist perspective.

What RB said...

Having "faith" in the evidence of the senses is a classic argument. The matrix or any other argument against reality is arbitrary. The evidence of the senses is not.

It doesn't change the fact that the matrix could be there. There is no evidence that I can perceive it, but it "could still exist". Is this not true, yes or no? And if it is, is this not having faith, then, that what I percieve and reason with is reality?.

IS IT TRUE THAT: objectivism would tell us to ignore that possibility - because there are an infinite amount of "possibilities" in this regard (the matrix, existence of dieties, etc, with literall no way to distinguish what is true or not). Objectivism would tell us to live with what we perceive (reality) and reason with it. Even though the matrix might exist - it is still a reality we would have to deal with (the reality of thoghts being put into our head by something else that we aren't aware of).

Again, I'm not saying that the matrix is created in my head, someone is putting it into my head. Primacy of existance is still there, it's just that this part of existance is something I can't grasp with my perception and reason.

Edited by mb121

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Again, I'm not saying that the matrix is created in my head, someone is putting it into my head. Primacy of existance is still there, it's just that this part of existance is something I can't grasp with my perception and reason.

I repeat my question... If you cannot perceive it, what does it matter? It is "possible" that there is an invisible weightless unicorn tap-dancing on my head. What does it mean to use possible in that respect?

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What evidence is there that suggests that you do live in the matrix?

RationalBikers's socratic answer is exactly right, but Ill take the liberty of explaining it in more detail. The axioms are axioms because they are necessary precursors to any other knowledge. Everything we can ever know is predicated on those 3 ideas. Any arbitrary idea that someone comes up with must be supported by evidence or it is nothing more then a floating abstraction.

So the axioms state, in other words, that the concept of evidence presupposes some material universe and an entity capable of observing it. It is not possible to provide "evidence" that evidence cannot exist. If you were Neo and met some people who gave you a pill which caused you to wake up in his circumstances, you would then have evidence that an interesting computer program existed but the nature of the universe would still not have changed. Only your knowledge would have changed. Like when you feel the straightness of a stick that appears to bend in the water.

Remember that the burden of proof rests on the shoulders of the individual making the positive claim. I don't believe in god, unicorns and fairies. I dont have any evidence that they don't exist, except that I have no evidence that they do exist. Nothing else is required.

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I think this accusation that talk of discussion of the Matrix scenario is purely "arbitrary" is misleading however. It would indeed be arbitrary to state that "I believe that I am connected to the Matrix right now." It is not, however, arbitrary to state that "It is within the realm of possibility that I am connected to the Matrix right now."

This is because the Matrix argument is essentially being used as a hypothetical. The essential problem is that the only means humans have of proof or disproof (the senses) are incapable of proving OR disproving the Matrix scenario were it indeed real. That is why it is important.

Admitting the possibility of a Matrix scenario doesn't mean you admit that you are connected to the Matrix, or that reality doesn't exist, or that Ayn Rand was wrong, etc. All it means is that a Matrix scenario is within the bounds of possible alternative realities.

The best example I can think of right now is of a sealed cardboard box sitting on a table which you are not allowed to open or touch. The contents of the box are bounded by the realm of the possible. Thus, I can say "It is possible a hardcopy of Atlas Shrugged is in the box." This again, is not the same as saying "There IS a copy of the book in the box" which would of course be unfounded. Defining the realm of the possible is something we do every day and it is one of the things essential to human existance. Why should we refuse to practice the principle when dealing with philosophic hypotheticals?

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Admitting the possibility of a Matrix scenario

....serves no purpose except that it's entertaining sleepover talk if you are 13 years old in the middle of the night with your friends. But as a serious philosophical ponderance, there is no reason to admit the possiblity. Rational men seek reasons to entertain such possiblities. You can insert any arbitrary idea or scenario in there for consideration and it still gets you nowhere. It is as productive as admitting the possibility that we are plugged into the cigarette lighter of a '57 Chevy.

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....serves no purpose except that it's entertaining sleepover talk if you are 13 years old in the middle of the night with your friends. But as a serious philosophical ponderance, there is no reason to admit the possiblity. Rational men seek reasons to entertain such possiblities. You can insert any arbitrary idea or scenario in there for consideration and it still gets you nowhere. It is as productive as admitting the possibility that we are plugged into the cigarette lighter of a '57 Chevy.

As a serious philosophical ponderance, the "brain in the jar" or Matrix scenario is actually rather well accepted. I can think of at least three times during my philosophical education where it came up. Again, the importance of the Matrix scenario is not that it is a possibility (as the book in the box is a possibility) but rather it is a possibility which our faculties of perception can neither prove NOR disprove. The Matrix scenario identifies the limit of potential human understanding of metaphysics. It identifies the line at which reality of a certain sort MUST be accepted as an axiom else it could not be proved at all.

Edited by Vladimir Berkov

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There is no evidence that I can perceive it, but it "could still exist".

How do you know "it could exist"? What evidence do you have that "it could exist"?

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As a serious philosophical ponderance, the "brain in the jar" or Matrix scenario is actually rather well accepted. I can think of at least three times during my philosophical education where it came up. Again, the importance of the Matrix scenario is not that it is a possibility (as the book in the box is a possibility) but rather it is a possibility which our faculties of perception can neither prove NOR disprove.

Which is why it is much more pointless than the book in a box scenario... At least the book in the box has some connection to perceptual reality. There is a meaning to the statement "there is a book in that box". There is no meaning to the statement "we are plugged into machines but we will never have any evidence". If there is no evidence that essentially means there is no effect on our lives. If there were an effect, we would have some sort of evidence. Who cares about a cause with no effect?

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As a serious philosophical ponderance, the "brain in the jar" or Matrix scenario is actually rather well accepted.

Argument by authority or consensus, pick one.

Edited by RationalBiker

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Leonard Peikoff has a good argument against brain-in-a-vat type scenarios in Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Anyway, even to entertain the notion of a "matrix" you have to know:

1)There are computers.

2)There are delusions.

3)There are brains.

4)There are electrical impulses.

5)Computers can alter the electrical impulses in brains, making people think they are in reality, when they are really in a matrix.

How is it possible to know any of the premises underlying even the IDEA of the matrix, without knowing that this is reality and that the senses are valid?

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Leonard Peikoff has a good argument against brain-in-a-vat type scenarios in Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Anyway, even to entertain the notion of a "matrix" you have to know:

1)There are computers.

2)There are delusions.

3)There are brains.

4)There are electrical impulses.

5)Computers can alter the electrical impulses in brains, making people think they are in reality, when they are really in a matrix.

How is it possible to know any of the premises underlying even the IDEA of the matrix, without knowing that this is reality and that the senses are valid?

I agree with you Lazlo, but not your argument... Perhaps this matrix has provided a valid enough view of reality to think up the idea of itself, but not to perceive it.

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Argument by authority or consensus, pick one.

I am not saying that because it is a well-accepted problem it is true. My point is that many philosophers use the Matrix-type scenario as a tool to show the backwards-limit of possible human knowledge about metaphysics and to provoke further discussion on the point. I have never met a philosophy professor who seriously entertains the possibility of there actually being a Matrix. But I have met many who used the Matrix scenario to provoke critical thought and discussion on its importance and implications.

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This thread is in serious need of definitions for the words: "faith," and "arbitrary."

"Faith" is a belief held without reason. To say that we accept the evidence of the senses "on faith" is a stolen concept. Faith would be accepting something without evidence. In the case of the evidence of the senses, well, did you happen to notice that word, "evidence" in there?!?

"Arbitrary" is the category for claims that have no evidence for being true, but also cannot be proven false. Dr. Peikoff correctly argues that the arbitrary is not to be treated as possible, but to be utterly ignored. The arbitrary is that which could exist, but does not have a shred of evidence to suggest that it does exist. To accept, or even entertain, the arbitrary would be an act of faith, since it would be acting without evidence.

Your friend has it completely backwards: he is the one operating on faith, not you.

If you operate under the premise of giving thought to the arbitrary, I could think of a million billion arbirtary assertions and keep you eternally occupied. ("There is an invisible dragon on the far side of the moon." "Every time you belch, you give birth to a tiny, undetectable galaxy in an alternate universe.")

Are you familiar with the "Flying Sphagetti Monster" argument?

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Are you familiar with the "Flying Sphagetti Monster" argument?

I've heard that term before but don't know what it means. Where can I find a description?

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I've heard that term before but don't know what it means. Where can I find a description?

The source of all knowledge: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster

And the initial article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...av=most_emailed

[Edit below]

I have the original newspaper clipping, it's much better than the online version. It has a graph!

[Last edit, I swear]

http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/

Thats the initial letter. Gah.

Edited by Cogito

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The source of all knowledge: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster

And the initial article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...av=most_emailed

[Edit below]

I have the original newspaper clipping, it's much better than the online version. It has a graph!

[Last edit, I swear]

http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/

Thats the initial letter. Gah.

Thanks!

By the way, in a similar vein, in 1982 or thereabouts I declared myself the Supreme, Ultimate Ruler of the Universe. My first act as Overlord was to immediately order everyone and everything to continue doing exactly what they had already been doing. The universe has been under my dominion ever since - you're all obeying me right now! :D

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