Rebirth of Reason

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Post 20

Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 3:05amSanction this postReply

I said, in as simple terms as I can make it, that the real world is the one we directly perceive, and it is that world all our knowledge, the result of all our intellectual investigations in every field, is about. If there were no perceived world, there would be nothing to study, no science at all.



I suggest you re-read what I wrote if you didn't get it the first time ;)


You think that the purpose of reason is to explain concrete reality.


What qualifies as 'concrete reality'?  My whole point was that WE DON'T KNOW IN ADVANCE OF THE PROCESS OF REASONING  what concrete reality consists of.  The very act of classifying something as 'concrete reality' is an act of reasoning.  Our knowledge about all of concrete reality is always incomplete, since there are always new things we could discover.


The purpose of reasoning is not just to explain KNOWN reality, but to try to broaden our horizons by searching for NEW CONCRETES. 


Therefore we can't make definite assumptions about what is and is not a part of 'concrete reality'. 


How do you know that the computer you're seeing right now is concrete reality?  You do not perceive that computer screen directly you know... the picture youre seeing is actually just electrical signals in your brain. As a child you REASONED that these electrical signals generated by light going into your eyes  CORRESPOND to something outside your head and you RE-CLASSIFIED the mental pictures as representing part of 'concrete reality'.  An extreme logical positivist would tell you that the computer doesn't exist, because all you are actually aware of is 'a picture of a computer in your head' and you shouldn't assume that the pictures correspond to anything in reality.  That of course, is solipsism.


The truly rational person has to start by assuming that there is a concrete reality outside his head which is greater than the one he currently knows about.  Then reason can be used to come up with models which CORRESPOND to as yet unknown concretes.  If the reasoning is good, the person is entitled to conclude that their conceptions are not just 'abstract inventions for explaining known reality' but actually correspond to new things which have not yet been observed.


The rational person will then start to try to look for the proposed new things.  If the new things exist a way will be found to directly observe them at some point and then the rational person can RE-CLASSIFY them as NEW CONCRETES.  So what started off as an 'abstract device' got reclassified as a part of concrete reality later on. 


Do you see how treating scientific concepts as mere 'abstract devices' actually hugely constricts us?  A person who believes that the only concretes in reality are KNOWN concretes won't bother to search for anything new.  You have to trust reason and believe in pictures in your head' to start with in order to have a chance of finding them in concrete reality! 


To say that the purpose of reason is just to explain known concretes is comparable to a cave-man sitting watching shadows on his cave wall that refuses to turn his head to search for the source because he thinks that the shadows are all of reality.


(Edited by Marc Geddes on 8/12, 3:08am)

Post 21

Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 6:04pmSanction this postReply
Are you interested in discussing what I siad, or what you say I said.
For example, You think that the purpose of reason is to explain concrete reality.

As a matter of fact, I never used the word, "concrete." Since what I said is the perceived or physical world is what science studies, you either do not understand the meaning of the word, "concrete," or believe there is some source of knowledge other than consciousness and that which we are conscious of. If your argument is a priori, say so, and we can forget the discussion, since that would make you a mystic, and I have no truck with mystics.


Post 22

Saturday, August 14, 2004 - 2:43amSanction this postReply
I'm not a mystic and I'm not suggesting anything a priori.

But I'm afraid I can't agree with your statement that 'the real world is the one we directly perceive'. 

The term 'perceived world' is a concept.  Exactly how would you define this concept in terms of 'perceived reality'?  Like all concepts, our knowledge can always be improved, so that definitions become more precise.  The defintion of what constitutes the 'perceived world' changes as we learn more.  For instance prior to the invention of a microscope, scientists could not perceive viruses.  The concept 'virus' was not regarded to be a part of the 'perceived world'.  After scientists invented the microscope and directly perceived virusus, the concept of a virus was re-classified as part of 'perceived reality' and the defintion of 'perceived reality' was changed.

The point is that we cannot make assumptions in advance about what is and is not a part of 'perceived reality'.  Something that we currently think is not a part of 'perceived reality' may later turn to be a part of perceived reality' after all.  As I said, the term 'perceived world' is itself a concept with a definition that is changing over time.  So this concept cannot be taken as the basis for trying to define reality. 

Now let me suggest a slightly statement which I can agree with:

'the real world is the one we could potentially directly perceive'

Do you see the difference between my statement and your statement?

I agree that everything that is a part of the real world must be capable of potentially being measured and perceived.  But we don't know in advance of actually going out and looking at the world and reasoning about it which things will actually turn out to be directly perceiveable.

Deviding the world into abstract reality / perceived reality creates a false duality - this is exactly the kind of thing that Rand warned about.  The devision abstract reality /perceived reality is simply an arbitrary human classification system based on our current ignorance about the true nature of reality.  We call things we can't currently directly perceive 'abstract' and we call things we can currently directly perceive 'perceived reality'.  But our use of the term 'abstract' to describe some concept is simply a label indicating that we haven't yet figured out to directly perceive it and we don't quite understand it yet.  Many of the things we currently label 'abstract' may actually out be things that potentially we could directly perceive.  But we don't know in advance of deeper reasoning and experiments about the world which things we currently think are abstract things will turn out to actually be directly perceiveable.

So that's why I can't agree with the statement:

'the real world is the one we directly perceive'. 

But replace that statement with this one:

'the real world is the one we could potentially directly perceive'

and now I can agree with it.  O.K?

(Edited by Marc Geddes on 8/14, 2:56am)

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