Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

"If a tree falls in a forest ... does it make a sound?"

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Referring to philosophic knowledge being heirarchial:

Today's philosophers not only evade this point, but reverse it, just as they reverse the principle that knowledge is contextual. In regard to context-keeping, they not only fail to integrate their theories; they crusade for nonintegration, insisting that every question they study is independent of the others, that philosophy consists of "piecemeal analyses," and that the cardinal sin is system-building.

By dropping or simply not establishing a rigorous context of the inquiry, the responses can become as resplendent as the semantics permit.

Edited by dream_weaver
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your point would be better served by referring to "one who sews (clothing)", since a person who sues would be spelled "suer". And that is exactly what it means to be a debate about "semantics" -- to take the word to be primary and equivocate about the concept, rather than taking the concept to be primary.

You're right. My bad there, that's what I get for trying to think of a homograph(?) without using google!

I didn't get the impression that all the posters in this thread agree that this IS a semantics question.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?"

Times are changing. This was question posed by the bishop Berkley around 1710. I remember reading his essay.

To modernize his position, he said that we were living in some kind of "matrix" (yes, the movie)

but whose architect and medium was God. So the idea is that God creates everything you see

and hear (just the sensations in your brain), in the moment you see it. Of course when there is nobody around, existence does no exists.

There is no reality, just sensations imposed in your brain by god himself, like in the matrix.

Once you leave the forest, the forest is no more. But, it is consistently recreated if you return (as sensations in

your senses) obviously, by God.

But times are changing, nowadays it's a semantic discussion about the definition of the word "sound".

Reality exists. No God involved in this case... nice.

It is a good sign, isn't it? B)

Edited by Lucio
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

*** Mod's note: Merged with an earlier tread. - sN ***

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Yea, I have seen this topic on the forums before and I know the argument usually comes down to the definition of the concept "sound" and it usually ends with a disagreement on the essential characteristics of sound, but after reading a passage Rand wrote (I can't remember where, I will have to find it), she talks about the fallacy of the Primacy of Consciousness.

Could the negative stance (the stance that claims no sound would be made) be a corollary of the primacy of consciousness?

Edited by softwareNerd
Merged topics
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sound requires a vibration wave and a receptor. No receptor, no sound. If your asking does it make vibration waves, physics suggest it would.

What would be the conceptual equivalent to "vibration waves", or is that a concept is and of itself?

Edit - I am stupid. I am guessing "vibration waves" would be the equivalence of noise?

Edited by Maken
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sound (as a concept) requires a vibration wave and a receptor. No receptor, no sound. If your asking does it make vibration waves, physics suggest it would.

Interesting. That's the first I've heard sound being defined as both wave AND receptor.

This puts a different spin on the tree and forest thing.

So, if a recording device is in the forest, it qualifies as a 'sound' - but if not, it's only a vibration? Can this be right?

It seems to flirt very close to Primacy of Consciousness.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems to flirt very close to Primacy of Consciousness.

Not really. The confusion arises from trying to make a scientific question a philosophical question. Sound is a particular concept that involves an interaction with the presence of the receptor merely distinguishing it from another concept, "vibration waves". The vibration waves still exist, there's just nothing there to turn it sound. I would agree with you IF I were claiming that the vibration waves do not exist if no one is there to hear them - that would be primacy of consciousness.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the same manner Rand would write the a value requires a valuer, or knowledge a knower, a sensation requires a senser. The language problem is that I don't understand sound as automatically related to a 'sound perceiver'. There is no such thing as an intrinsic value, but I do know the intrinsic physical characteristics of sound. The whole source of the confusion around this classic stumper revolves around the ambiguity that some people interpret sound as heard by someone and the rest as a physical phenomena but both have some justification.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Yea, I have seen this topic on the forums before and I know the argument usually comes down to the definition of the concept "sound" and it usually ends with a disagreement on the essential characteristics of sound, but after reading a passage Rand wrote (I can't remember where, I will have to find it), she talks about the fallacy of the Primacy of Consciousness.

Could the negative stance (the stance that claims no sound would be made) be a corollary of the primacy of consciousness?

How do you know the tree fell?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You were walking through the forest, looking for someplace to catch a fish (brain food?), when you came across the fallen tree.

But if there is doubt that a sound was made when it fell, how do you know it fell if you didn't see it? Was it a tree before you came upon it, and distinguished it from everything else in its surroundings? Was it not just a bunch of vibrating atoms before your senses integrated it into a percept?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cough* Search button. There's already a thread on this very same question going.

I just wanted a specific question answered. This question, in the past, always came down to definitional debate and whether it was a physics or philosophical question.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Was it not just a bunch of vibrating atoms before your senses integrated it into a percept?

Sorry, I thought we were dealing a little closer to the perceptual level here. Must be the electromagnetic interference scrambling the automatic integrations performed by sensations prior to being confused by the . . . what the heck are we talking about here again???

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...