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

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@Easy Truth

What I was asking about was your position on the validity of the claims “Everything we know is simply a simulation” and “Everything we know could simply be a simulation.”  I was asking about your position about where on the epistemological spectrum each claim belongs:  Arbitrary, Possible, Probable, Certain.  My understanding is that “certain” claims are claims which qualify as real knowledge.  They are claims which are supported by a wide body of objective evidence which integrates without contradiction to point to a single conclusion.  Probable means that a majority or a preponderance of evidence points to a single conclusion while some evidence points to another.  Possible means you have some but not much evidence that allows you to hypothesize a claim.  And arbitrary claims are claims which are completely wanton, they have no evidence or basis in reality whatsoever to support them.

It looks like this matrix possibility topic has been extensively and heavily discussed and it has led up to discussion about precisely what “arbitrary” means.  It looks like you have come up with a couple of subcategories of “arbitrary” and then you have attached the two claims I mentioned to those subcategories.

One subcategory you mentioned was:

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Imaginable (to me) with no indication and unverifiable (to be permanently ignored)

And you attached the former simulation claim to it.

And the other subcategory you mentioned:

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Imaginable with no indication but verifiable (to be true or false) (given time)

And you attached the latter simulation claim to it.

This is why I asked about why you thought the latter claim was “tentatively arbitrary” because “tentative” means “subject to change.”  It seems to me that you are saying that the latter claim is “verifiable” to be or true or false GIVEN TIME but the former claim is “unverifiable” and I am wondering why the latter claim is “verifiable” but the former claim is not?  When I was wondering this, I was thinking about what the essential difference was between the two claims.  I have an idea about what you might have meant (please tell me if I’m wrong).

So, regarding the former claim, “Everything we know is simply a simulation,” that claim means that right now we are inside something like a computer program, that all the objects, living or non-living, that we’ve ever encountered are not spatially extended entities, they’re just bits of information, that are being processed by a computer in some “real” reality in which real entities exist.  And therefore all of the knowledge that we have that is based on the objects we have encountered is only valid in the simulation and not valid in the “higher” reality outside of the simulation we live in.  Is that what you meant by the first claim?

And regarding the latter claim, “Everything we know COULD SIMPLY BE a simulation” means that all encountered objects and the knowledge we have that is based on them CAN BE simulated.  One meaning that I can think of that you are referring to is that ALL OF THE OBJECTS we have ever encountered can be simulated in a computer.  If that is what you mean then we already know that that is true, not merely possible.  We already have simulations like flight simulators, we have video games, we have computerized 3-D drawing programs, we know that we can simulate reality, but it’s still a simulation which is different from reality.  You wouldn’t be able to form the concept “simulation” unless you had valid senses with which you could observe reality.  In order to form the concept “simulation,” you have to observe reality and simulations and differentiate “simulation” from reality.  So what I think you meant by the latter claim is already “verifiable” and it has been verified to be true.  But you may be meaning something else with this latter claim so I was just trying to understand what you meant because I don’t see any difference between the two claims otherwise.  I wouldn’t put them in separate subcategories of “arbitrary.”

The more I think about this topic, the more I find that this unavoidably leads to Cartesian doubt.  I am interested in what everybody’s position is on this.  My thought is that if it is “possible” that we are living in a simulation, then that completely destroys the field of epistemology itself?  Why?  Because in order for us to possess knowledge about anything which is certain there cannot be any “possibility” that points to an alternative or conflicting idea.  We know in the case of video games which are basically simulations, that they are made by programmers and programmers are volitional beings who can program the simulations to run any way they choose.  For example, they can program some objects like walls to be solid which forbids a character in the simulation from being able to walk through the wall.  But if the programmers want, they can choose to define another wall which characters can simply walk through under the same circumstances, and the walls can look exactly the same.  The programmer can choose to define a humanoid character which cannot fly and then just because the programmer feels like it, they can define one human which can fly under the same circumstances in which all the other humanoid characters cannot.  And those characters can look and function exactly the same.  And I’m sure that anybody can think of numerous other concrete examples of this so the concrete examples are not important but the deeper point is that a real possibility of us all being in a simulation destroys the validity of our generalizations.  If living in a simulation is a real possibility, then it follows that we can no longer form generalizations which are certain because whoever created the simulation can set and violate any physical rules that they want.  Any time that we would ever form a generalization about anything, we would be condemned to entertaining the possibility that we could encounter a violation of that generalization in the future just because whoever created the simulation felt like making that happen.

Edited by ReasonFirst
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13 hours ago, ReasonFirst said:

And regarding the latter claim, “Everything we know COULD SIMPLY BE a simulation” means that all encountered objects and the knowledge we have that is based on them CAN BE simulated. 

"could be" as in "might exist" rather than "can be/can exist". These are interpretations I had not thought about. Although "can be" simulated would be a requirement of "might be" simulated. (they don't contradict).

13 hours ago, ReasonFirst said:

My thought is that if it is “possible” that we are living in a simulation, then that completely destroys the field of epistemology itself?  Why?  Because in order for us to possess knowledge about anything which is certain there cannot be any “possibility” that points to an alternative or conflicting idea.

You could be right, I have to think about this more. 

For now, I would object by saying: Living in a simulation does not conflict with living (living without the matrix). That's the puzzle, that's the problem, they look alike. How do you know the difference?

The ultimate argument against the Matrix, or God is that it is "arbitrary", or use occam's razor (why add that complication when you don't have to). If I could make the argument that "by being open to the idea of the matrix, you destroy epistemology" I would have loved it, it would be a much more solid argument against the possibility of the matrix. (same with the idea of God or this world is all a dream).

But how would epistemology be different in the matrix?

 

 

 

 

 

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@Easy Truth

I think if you mean "might be" or "may be" without evidence, that is still a claim of something being "possible" when it's actually arbitrary.  And I think that you agree with this as well, that's why you placed it into a subcategory of "arbitrary."  I'm just trying to understand the difference between the two subcategories, and I think, in general, I do understand.  One subcategory is "tentative" and the other will always remain arbitrary.  But as to the two specific simulation claims you presented as belonging to those subcategories, I don't know.

I also agree with you about this:

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Although "can be" simulated would be a requirement of "might be" simulated. (they don't contradict).

I just want expound on this a little bit.  I remember hearing a Peikoff lecture in which he stated that "can be" is an expression of "metaphysical possibility" and that is not exactly the same as an expression of "epistemological possibility."  When somebody tries to make a claim about "metaphysical possibility" they often use words like "can" or "could."  Like when someone claims "This plane can crash" that is perfectly valid and certain because under some circumstances, it can in fact crash, it is metaphysically possible for it to crash.  But when someone claims "This plane is going to crash," that is a claim about "epistemological possibility" and that has to be supported by evidence or it is arbitrary.  This is partly what I was thinking about when I was trying to understand the difference between the two simulation claims you mentioned and which subcategory they belonged to.

Regarding the differences between a simulation and reality (by the way, I am using "simulation" and "matrix" interchangeably in my argument, for me they mean the exact same thing)

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For now, I would object by saying: Living in a simulation does not conflict with living (living without the matrix). That's the puzzle, that's the problem, they look alike. How do you know the difference?

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But how would epistemology be different in the matrix?

Ok here is what some differences would be.  If we're talking about a simulation inside a computer than one difference would be that all the "entities" within it are not real entities in the sense that they are not 3-D objects.  Computers show you projections of 3-D objects on a 2-D screen but those objects are not really 3-D.  All of those objects are really just bits of information that are inscribed in computer chips.  So I argue that if we were in a simulation (matrix), we would not have the spatial awareness that we do.  We would not be able to touch rocks or chairs or cars or anything and sense that those objects have spatial extent in 3 dimensions.  Additionally, we would not have the self-awareness that we do.  You have a self-awareness of your entire mind and body as unified whole.  If we were living in a matrix and our senses were valid, we would feel like computer microchips, because we would only be occupying that space.

And I already noticed that someone else in this thread already responded to this by saying (and I'm paraphrasing their argument) "what if the simulation is so technologically advanced that you just can't tell the difference?"  I argue that NO AMOUNT of technological advancement CAN EVER INVALIDATE THE SENSES.  Technological advancement is achieved STARTING with the usage of our VALID SENSES.  The argument about there being no difference ASSUMES UNJUSTIFIABLY that there would be no difference while ignoring the fact that the "objects" inside a simulation are just bits of information in a microchip and real objects have properties like mass and volume which are knowable with our valid senses.  Also, assuming we were human beings in a simulation, epistemology could not be different in a matrix.  We would still rely on our senses and concepts that we would form according to Ayn Rand's Theory of Concepts. 

And if it is "possible" that we are living in a simulation right now, that does imply that our senses are not good enough to tell the difference.  And I argue that does lead us to an epistemological state in which we could never be certain about anything because nothing is set in stone in a simulation.  Every physical law you ever discover in a simulation has been programmed to be there by a programmer like with the examples I gave of humans flying like birds or walking through walls that look the same as walls you can't walk through.  So how could your generalizations in a simulation ever be valid, i.e how could you ever know anything in a simulation when everything in it is subject to the whim of a programmer?  

Edited by ReasonFirst
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@Easy Truth

I was considering the some of the other claims that you placed in your "tentative" category of arbitrary:

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black swan
9-11 was caused by the United States
The Iraq war due to weapons of mass destruction (arbitrary?) or (arbitrary in hindsight)
There are 1,584,634 hairs on your body
UFO sightings or contact

I can see why you place these claims in your "tentative"  category of arbitrary but I don't see how the matrix claim belongs in the same subcategory with the rest of these examples.  I would place both of the matrix claims in your first subcategory of arbitrary, the first one which you mentioned should be permanently ignored.  I would say the difference between both of your matrix claims and the examples quoted above is that there seems to be an implication with your matrix claims that our senses are not good enough to tell the difference between a simulation and reality but the claims above make no such implication.  The claims like the "black swan" or "9-11 was caused by the United States" and the others are arbitrary solely because of a lack of evidence and if evidence turns up in the future, these claims would no longer be arbitrary.  But the implication in both of your matrix claims is that any future evidence in favor of us living in reality won't be good enough, because "what if" the matrix can just "simulate" that evidence too?  So we are forever cut off from any solid evidence that we are living in reality.  But again, I would say that both of your matrix claims are saying this and they belong in the same subcategory, the first one you mentioned.

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2 hours ago, ReasonFirst said:

We would not be able to touch rocks or chairs or cars or anything and sense that those objects have spatial extent in 3 dimensions. 

If we assume a simulation that perfectly fakes vision for us, why not assume that it perfectly fakes all of our other senses, including our sense of touch and our kinesthetic sense?  That seemed to be the case in The Matrix.  Rather than go down a rabbit hole debating what the simulation does or does not do, we should just reject the whole idea as arbitrary. 

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3 hours ago, ReasonFirst said:

when someone claims "This plane is going to crash," that is a claim about "epistemological possibility"

Pardon my ignorance, but why is this a claim about "epistemological possibility" and not simply a claim about the future?  How is it different from "That plane must have crashed."?

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@Doug Morris

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5 hours ago, Doug Morris said:
  8 hours ago, ReasonFirst said:

when someone claims "This plane is going to crash," that is a claim about "epistemological possibility"

Pardon my ignorance, but why is this a claim about "epistemological possibility" and not simply a claim about the future?  How is it different from "That plane must have crashed."?

Well the claim “That plane must have crashed” is just a past tense claim instead of a claim about the future.  And I would say that both of those claims are claims of “epistemological possibility.”  The reason I brought up the two senses of possibility is because it is relevant when you’re trying to make a determination about where on the epistemological spectrum a claim belongs: arbitrary, possible, probable, certain.  If you claim for example, “The plane can crash,” you can validly make that claim without having to provide any specific evidence of your own because that claim does not make any assertions about a particular plane in a particular set of circumstances.  That claim only asserts that an entity has a potentiality.  And we already have all the evidence we need to know that airplanes have the potential to crash.  So claiming that an airplane has the capability to crash is the metaphysical sense of possibility. 

But this is very different from the epistemological sense of possibility in which you’re trying to advance a hypothesis about a particular situation.  So your claim “That plane must have crashed” is an assertion about a PARTICULAR plane in a PARTICULAR SITUATION.  And so are my examples “This plane is going to crash” or “This plane will crash.”  Both of those claims are advancing a hypothesis about a particular airplane under a particular set of circumstances (in a particular situation).  And these claims CANNOT be validly made if the person who makes the claims doesn’t present specific evidence for them.  You would have to present something specific about the plane that you are making a claim about that would cause or contribute to a crash, like that the specific plane in question was damaged or that the specific plane in question encountered bad weather or something else that is specific to the airplane in question.  Otherwise, in the absence of specific evidence, those kinds of claims about specific entities have to be classified as arbitrary and thrown out.

I was contemplating the two matrix claims that Easy Truth made and why he put each one into different subcategories of “arbitrary.”  I couldn’t understand why the second claim belongs in his “tentative” category of arbitrary.  He placed his first claim “Everything we know is simply a simulation” into a category of arbitrary that he stated is “unverifiable” and that should “be permanently ignored.”  And I completely agree with this.  But I don’t understand what makes it appropriate to place the second claim “Everything we know COULD SIMPLY BE a simulationinto a “tentative” subcategory of arbitrary.  And that’s when I started asking myself “What does Easy Truth mean by this second matrix claim?  Is he expressing a claim about metaphysical possibility?  Is he saying that we CAN create simulations of reality in general?  I was thinking if that’s what he is saying, we already know at this point that that claim is true because we know we can create simulations of reality as I’ve already mentioned.  But if his second claim is claiming “The specific reality that we exist in COULD ITSELF be a simulation,” I just don’t see how that differs at all from his first matrix claim and I would say that both of the claims should both be placed into his first subcategory of arbitrary:  “Unverifiable” and “To be permanently ignored.”

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5 hours ago, Doug Morris said:
8 hours ago, ReasonFirst said:

We would not be able to touch rocks or chairs or cars or anything and sense that those objects have spatial extent in 3 dimensions. 

If we assume a simulation that perfectly fakes vision for us, why not assume that it perfectly fakes all of our other senses, including our sense of touch and our kinesthetic sense?  That seemed to be the case in The Matrix.  Rather than go down a rabbit hole debating what the simulation does or does not do, we should just reject the whole idea as arbitrary. 

Yes, we can go ahead and assume that for the purposes of being clear about what exactly the simulation claims are claiming.  But I would say that it is a mistake on our part or anybody's part to make an assumption like that, not just because that assumption is arbitrary, but also because it implies that the senses or our perceptions are not good enough to differentiate between the "fake vision" and "real vision" along with all of our other senses.  And I would base my argument on a course lectured by Binswanger called "The Foundations of Knowledge."  But I agree with you that debating against an arbitrary claim does make us go down into a rabbit hole and I would agree that we should reject the whole idea as arbitrary.

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Here is a minor point.  Black swan was once a good example, but no more because they do exist in Australia, and have been introduced elsewhere.

You are correct that they have been spotted in Australia but I think that that example still does have some value because it lends itself well to understanding Easy Truth's two subcategories of "arbitrary."  Permanently arbitrary and tentatively arbitrary (i'm paraphrasing his categories a little).  He distinguished some arbitrary claims that would become true if sufficient evidence in favor of them ever emerged from arbitrary claims that would remain arbitrary forever.  I think the "black swan" example is a good example for a claim that in a past context of knowledge had no evidence and then in a future context did have evidence and so it's a great example of an arbitrary claim that became true over time.

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On 12/19/2020 at 9:57 AM, ReasonFirst said:

The more I think about this topic, the more I find that this unavoidably leads to Cartesian doubt.  I am interested in what everybody’s position is on this.  My thought is that if it is “possible” that we are living in a simulation, then that completely destroys the field of epistemology itself?  Why?  Because in order for us to possess knowledge about anything which is certain there cannot be any “possibility” that points to an alternative or conflicting idea.

You could be a sort of deist of the simulated world. You would believe that if the world's simulated, then the Programmer created it but leaves it alone, so no changes to the simulated laws of nature. He doesn't interfere with anything.

Once you accept the arbitrary, you might as well make the most of it. The Programmer also has a backup generator in case the power goes off and he has to keep the computers running.

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@MisterSwig

 

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6 hours ago, MisterSwig said:
On 12/19/2020 at 9:57 AM, ReasonFirst said:

The more I think about this topic, the more I find that this unavoidably leads to Cartesian doubt.  I am interested in what everybody’s position is on this.  My thought is that if it is “possible” that we are living in a simulation, then that completely destroys the field of epistemology itself?  Why?  Because in order for us to possess knowledge about anything which is certain there cannot be any “possibility” that points to an alternative or conflicting idea.

You could be a sort of deist of the simulated world. You would believe that if the world's simulated, then the Programmer created it but leaves it alone, so no changes to the simulated laws of nature. He doesn't interfere with anything.

Once you accept the arbitrary, you might as well make the most of it. The Programmer also has a backup generator in case the power goes off and he has to keep the computers running.

Agreed.  Just wanna say a couple things about that. 1)  Even if the Programmer or the creator of the simulation doesn't interfere after he creates the simulation, he still might have created it in the first place in some way that would eventually lead to the inhabitants of the simulation obtaining contradictory knowledge.  What I mean is, even from the beginning, he could have defined humanoid inhabitants that possess all the abilities that we do and ONLY the abilities we do but he could have defined one humanoid inhabitant who could walk on water or walk through walls or fly.  So he doesn't have to interfere after the simulation's creation to destroy our epistemology, because we know simulations are programs and at any time even before a program is run, all of the natural or physical rules are set by the Programmer's choices or whims, i.e no generalizations that we can make can be valid.  2)  If you're a deist in the simulation and you believe that the Programmer leaves it alone and doesn't interfere, you are still injecting belief without evidence into your epistemology, so your epistemology is still destroyed, i.e. what you have is not epistemology at all, it's a belief system.

I agree that this is arbitrary and this leads us to an infinitely regressive back and forth argument about us existing or not existing in a matrix/simulation.  And I agree it should be rejected as arbitrary.  My biggest question though is can the simulation/matrix claim be something that belongs to a "tentatively arbitrary" subcategory or should it be something that forever belongs to the "permanently arbitrary" subcategory?

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11 hours ago, ReasonFirst said:

You would have to present something specific about the plane that you are making a claim about that would cause or contribute to a crash, like that the specific plane in question was damaged or that the specific plane in question encountered bad weather or something else that is specific to the airplane in question. 

What if my reason is I saw it, then I looked away, then I looked back again soon enough that I should still have seen it, but I didn't see it.

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1 hour ago, ReasonFirst said:

My biggest question though is can the simulation/matrix claim be something that belongs to a "tentatively arbitrary" subcategory or should it be something that forever belongs to the "permanently arbitrary" subcategory?

If we're going to play that kind of game, maybe the world in which the simulation exists as such is itself another simulation.

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On the other hand, there was a Dr. Who episode in which there was the real world, and then there was a massive simulation of it some hostile aliens were running.  You could tell you were in the simulation and not the real world if you possessed a certain book.  The book told you to pick a sequence of numbers, any numbers, and then turn the page.  On the next page there was a sequence of numbers, one of them in the millions.  If the numbers on the next page exactly matched the numbers you picked, you were in the simulation.

In the TV series Harsh Realm there was a massive simulation of a post-apocalyptic world.  People from the real world could be hooked up to it, knowing that they were in a simulation, although they might not realize at first that this had already happened.  There were also virtual characters that were wholly in the simulation.  There was at least one difference in the laws of nature; when a virtual character died, the body just disappeared.  Also there were software glitches that created effects like magic in particular places, including at least one place where you could go through a seemingly sturdy fence.

I've had an idea for a science fiction story in which somebody doing some of the programming for a simulation is supposed to simulate a riffle shuffle.  There is a strong relationship between the order of the cards before a single riffle shuffle and the order of the cards after it.  Through laziness and/or ignorance, this programmer just uses the Knuth shuffle algorithm, which is easy to program, but completely randomizes the order.  I've done more with this idea and maybe some time I'll write the story, but there's another story that's a higher priority.

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3 hours ago, ReasonFirst said:

he still might have created it in the first place in some way that would eventually lead to the inhabitants of the simulation obtaining contradictory knowledge.

It seems that your scenario depends on the inhabitants obtaining the knowledge that it's impossible for them to obtain knowledge. So I think it suffers from a common problem: you can't escape your own cognitive process. You have to begin with knowledge of something, even if it's just the twisted axioms of your simulation. No matter how twisted it gets, you begin by claiming to know something. You might start with the idea that you can't know anything for certain even the idea that you can't know anything for certain. Okay, but how do you know that? You're still making a claim based on your certainty of radical agnosticism. The only way "out" of the trap is to accept that you might be able to know something for certain, and then you've begun to crush your own proposition. You can't destroy epistemology because you can't destroy knowledge. You might reduce yourself to an epistemology of absolute faith, in which case you'll probably die or kill yourself within the hour. But most people retain a mixed epistemology where they relegate faith to less important matters, like the creation of the cosmos or the proper foundation of morality, and they try to apply reason to issues that really matter, like when to walk across the highway or which plants to eat.

3 hours ago, ReasonFirst said:

If you're a deist in the simulation and you believe that the Programmer leaves it alone and doesn't interfere, you are still injecting belief without evidence into your epistemology, so your epistemology is still destroyed, i.e. what you have is not epistemology at all, it's a belief system.

Epistemology is the study or theory of knowledge. It's not knowledge itself. So "faith" or "revelation" can still support a theory of knowledge. It's how you think you got the knowledge you have. As a deist in the simulation, I might posit a hands-off Programmer who doesn't create supernatural beings--to explain why we don't observe miracles or violations of the laws of nature.

3 hours ago, ReasonFirst said:

My biggest question though is can the simulation/matrix claim be something that belongs to a "tentatively arbitrary" subcategory or should it be something that forever belongs to the "permanently arbitrary" subcategory?

In other words, is it possible to have a matrix world? I'm not sure. That's kind of the point of asserting the arbitrary. It's neither true nor false. So when you seriously start to entertain the idea it begins to erode your sense of certainty. I'd say to focus on the evidence. Is there any evidence for the possibility that there could be a matrix now or in the future? The fact that we have fully immersive dream states shows that we can fool ourselves into accepting an imaginary world. But that's not a computer-generated world. Plus, I've had a lucid dream where I realized I was dreaming within the dream. And that was because I noticed a contradiction within my dream world. The matrix programmer would need to create a dream-like computer-generated world for us. And he should be able to either erase our knowledge and memory of reality or perfectly integrate the matrix with our knowledge and memory, so we don't notice contradictions and become aware of the matrix. If not that, maybe he could eliminate or suppress our capacity for lucid dreaming, which might translate to a sort of lucid experiencing within the matrix.

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Similar to the question of God, what created God. What matrix created the matrix we are in, going on infinitely. Or maybe there are Gods instead of on God. So maybe there are multiple matrix's. In other words, what if this matrix is in a matrix itself, and that one in another one. What if we are in a matrix that is part of a dream? What if we are in a matrix that coexists with another one ... and on and on with the possibilities.

That is the problem with "arbitrary", it is eternally undeterminable.

Kind of like x/0, a divide by zero problem is undeterminable with infinite possibilities. Maybe it's 8, maybe its 52 because both multiplied with zero are zero. They are all possible. You don't know which number it is, but you know that you can never determine it. In fact one knows that is eternally undeterminable.

One thing I notice is that there are two interpretations of the matrix issue

1. The matrix is a simulation in this world. Meaning, you may be mistaken about your location. you are not where you think you are.

2. The matrix is a way of saying there is no reality. There is no real world. kind of like existence does not exists. It falls apart because the matrix requires existence, for itself to exist.

#1  is an empirical question, requiring experimentation and trial and error to see if there is any evidence and to "find" the actual room that you are in. It is not a refutation of existence, just an assertion of an error. In that case, it is not an attack on epistemology. 

Since you think an attack on epistemology is involved, you would be arguing the second definition of the Matrix. That maybe existence does not exist. In that case, that matrix does not exist, period!
 

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On 12/21/2020 at 11:45 AM, ReasonFirst said:

And I argue that does lead us to an epistemological state in which we could never be certain about anything because nothing is set in stone in a simulation.

And of course, the old argument, "then you are certain that you are not certain about anything?"

I saw an old thread on arbitrary that may be of interest

 

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@Doug Morris

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What if my reason is I saw it, then I looked away, then I looked back again soon enough that I should still have seen it, but I didn't see it.

I think, under certain circumstances, that reason would qualify as evidence that something potentially dangerous is going on.  I mean as long as you weren't on any drugs or hallucinating and you have every reason to believe that you should have seen it because you looked for it again very quickly and you didn't see it, then yes I would think that would count as evidence.

@MisterSwig

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Epistemology is the study or theory of knowledge. It's not knowledge itself. So "faith" or "revelation" can still support a theory of knowledge. It's how you think you got the knowledge you have. As a deist in the simulation, I might posit a hands-off Programmer who doesn't create supernatural beings--to explain why we don't observe miracles or violations of the laws of nature.

That is very interesting.  I guess I was not distinguishing between knowledge itself and the study or theory of knowledge in my arguments.  I agree with your statement about what epistemology is.  But I was working off the assumption that epistemology ONLY involves using your five senses and rational inference therefrom.  I was not including any element of "faith" or "revelation" in my argument.  I guess I might have presumed that everyone else on this forum thought that way as well about epistemology.

@Easy Truth

Thanks for that link, I'll definitely check it out.  I know I keep hammering at this but I was hoping you would help me understand specifically what you meant when you presented those two matrix claims and you placed the first one in a "permanently arbitrary" subcategory and the second one (which you mentioned was a variation of the first) in a "tentatively arbitrary" subcategory?  I'm hoping to understand what your thought process was when you presented that second claim and what you meant by that second claim:  "Everything we know COULD SIMPLY BE a simulation."  What would you say is the difference between your second matrix claim and your first matrix claim? 

I know you placed that second claim together with other claims for which there is no evidence like the one about 9/11 being caused by the US.  So in trying to understand what your thought process was, I was thinking about that 9/11 claim and I came up with this:

Right now we have NO EVIDENCE that 9/11 was caused by the US but IF one day evidence for that emerges, we can rightfully entertain that possibility.  And so, returning attention to your second matrix claim, following the same thought format, "Right now we have NO EVIDENCE that everything we know could simply be a simulation but IF one day evidence for that emerges, we can rightfully entertain that possibility."  It seems like that second matrix claim leaves open the scenario of us one day obtaining evidence that we could be living in a simulation and then we would have to accept something like this: "we can no longer be certain that we live in the real world because NOW we have evidence that we could be in a simulation."  But accepting that would put us in the same epistemological position as the first matrix claim you mentioned, which is a position that in your words is "unverifiable" and "to be permanently ignored" instead of in your words "Imaginable with no indication but verifiable (to be true or false) (given time)."  In the 9/11 scenario, you could follow whatever evidence emerged and look for more evidence to verify it to be true or false.  But how would the second matrix claim that you presented be verified to be true or false?

Edited by ReasonFirst
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  • 3 months later...
On 12/29/2020 at 1:48 AM, ReasonFirst said:

Right now we have NO EVIDENCE that 9/11 was caused by the US but IF one day evidence for that emerges, we can rightfully entertain that possibility.  And so, returning attention to your second matrix claim, following the same thought format, "Right now we have NO EVIDENCE that everything we know could simply be a simulation but IF one day evidence for that emerges, we can rightfully entertain that possibility."  It seems like that second matrix claim leaves open the scenario of us one day obtaining evidence that we could be living in a simulation and then we would have to accept something like this: "we can no longer be certain that we live in the real world because NOW we have evidence that we could be in a simulation."  But accepting that would put us in the same epistemological position as the first matrix claim you mentioned, which is a position that in your words is "unverifiable" and "to be permanently ignored" instead of in your words "Imaginable with no indication but verifiable (to be true or false) (given time)."  In the 9/11 scenario, you could follow whatever evidence emerged and look for more evidence to verify it to be true or false.  But how would the second matrix claim that you presented be verified to be true or false?

Sorry to reply so late, but I had to read the thread again to give my answer. I also had to review my post.

https://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?/topic/8011-how-do-i-know-im-not-in-the-matrix/&page=7&tab=comments#comment-355242

"Everything we know is simply a simulation ...  (there is a variation below)"
The word "is" is used, it is a statement of fact.
It is a statement of fact about something that has no evidence to make it "probably true".
The probability of it being true or false is equal (because of lack of evidence).
Therefore, saying it is true, with certainty, is false. It is not true with certainty.
To say that something that has no evidence at all, actually exists, is a contradiction.
That is why it has to be ignored permanently, since the rule was that contradiction have to be ignored permanently.

While the statement
"Everything we know could simply be a simulation (the variation)"

Is also, arbitrary, but there is no claim that it is true. There is no claim that the matrix exists. But it is verifiable (not sure why you think it is not), it is an arbitrary that false under: tentatively ignored.

Meanwhile, the concept of an omnipotent and omniscient God, is actually NOT arbitrary, it is impossible.
Omniscience and Omnipotence don't exist in this universe/existence.
 

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