TED Talks: We have reason to believe what we don't perceive:

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obvs Eating chickens is for the bourgeoisie
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In this TED Talk, you can hear why there's good reason to question whether what we're perceiving is actually reality or just an approximation constructed by our brains.

He's admittedly not the most captivating speaker, but the subject matter is very interesting, and even gets into the nature of consciousness.
maurvir Outlier
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I felt like he did a fine job presenting his material myself, but I tend to like a more dry approach to these talks.

As for the material, I think most people who have done any research in the area understand that what we perceive as reality is a complex illusion. We couldn't function otherwise, as it would take too long to process the world if we had to do it the "hard way". Still, I'm always fascinated to learn more on the topic.

The key is to realize that, while what we perceive may be an illusion, it is based on the real world around us. In his example, there really is an object we call a tomato, and most people will come to an agreement on its color, shape, size, etc. Our own perception is unique, but closely correlated with other viewer's perceptions of the same object.
ukimalefu Wasn't me
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user Stupid cockwomble
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:: flips Morpheus off and takes the damn blue pill ::
Metacell Chocolate Brahma
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Even extension in time and space are properties of our sensory perceptions. Sure, we can measure them...we can also measure colors and they are not properties of external reality either.
Metacell posted:
Even extension in time and space are properties of our sensory perceptions. Sure, we can measure them...we can also measure colors and they are not properties of external reality either.

Ok, this kind of talk always gets my philosophical goat.

Here's the thing: the reality we phenomenally experience, with colors and time and space etc, is the only version of reality we have access to.

So, anytime anyone says that there is some kind of plane of existence that is more real than what we take as given to be real, its a load of crap.

And sure, there are measurements and formulas that show us a much more abstract description of reality (like science), which phenomena can be reduced to in one sense, so that color is an aspect of QED or whatever, but the fact that this level of abstraction is available as well as the direct experience of phenomena doesn't make one "more real" than the other. They are both very real and we navigate each one for different purposes as regards to whichever is more pragmatically important.

In other words, the world of colors and time and space is the same world as the world of string equations or quantum physics or whatever just told from different perspectives. They harmonize with our intentional needs and experiences pragmatically, not holistically or from a gods eye point of view, because we dont have a gods eye point of view, we only have this one, the human one, and these perspectives are all still human perspectives. Just saying.

Not that you meant to imply anything like that, but like I said, its an implication that irritates me.
Metacell Chocolate Brahma
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I don't mean to imply that the reality we share isn't..uh..real...just that its a strictly human perception of it, and not in any sense a direct experience of it's true nature. For example, we don't actually see in 3 dimensions...we see two 2 dimensional images which combine to give us depth perception via parallax displacement, although one eye is enough to distinguish depth through foreshortening if the scene contains recognized objects. But neither of these phenomenon actually exist as part of the external world. Nevertheless, when we imagine a scene in the world, we usually do so in our mind as we do with our eyes. A blind person, on the other hand, does not imagine the world in this fashion...e.g. they perceive a cube by touch and can "see" all six sides of it at once, an actual 3D representation, while the rest of us can only see 3 sides at most (of course, we can see as a blind person too, but we have usually learned to gather information by vision first). Those born blind who gain their vision later in life take some time to learn to match what they are seeing with what they have previously understood of their structure.

But knowing this, we can extrapolate seeing from higher dimensions and such.
Well, that's kind of what I mean. We actually have no grasp of what the "external" world would be outside of what we are already capable of perceiving either directly or intuitively through logic or higher mathematics. So, despite how abstract it might seem, we have no ways of knowing which perspective is "THE" perspective.

In other words, we wouldn't know what a "true" view of reality would look like. Besides the one we've got.

Or, to put it yet another way, we don't have access to a higher level of being outside of ourselves where we could compare these various perspectives from. That kinda levels them all to the same height.
TOS
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exactly

there is tons of research to show that our brains "fill in the gaps" every single day of our lives, just as a matter of course

and that's just day to day stuff we don't even think about
Vulture 420
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This was a pretty cool talk, but I felt like it raised more questions than answers, and I'm now more confused about perception than anything. I found the most important notion was to close your eyes and concentrate on the absence of visual perception, to allow the mind to be more sensory independent in awareness of reality. This is a key step in successful meditation, if only a small step. I wish he did talk more of consciousness but he really didn't go there after the first mentioning of it.
Well, to me the problem in his idea is first, that by being skeptical of perception we can grasp reality better; and second, that by imagining evolution as a form of game theory, we can trust a result that tells us perception tends to not correlate with whats "really" there.

Throughout the talk there is a contrast made between what we take as real (objects of perception, time, and space) and what reality is "in itself" (what reality "really" is). That's a Kantian notion. He's filtering it through a model of evolutionary game theory as a means to justify the skeptical argument.

But the key aspect to Kant is realizing that such skepticism goes nowhere. Kant basically says, "yeah, the REALLY real stuff is whats beyond our sensibility. Thats whats real in-itself, what it must look like to God or something. But, we can't ever know what that would be like, because we only have access to the way the world exists for human being". In other words, there's no such thing as objective reality, because our reality arrives consciously, through our senses and experiences which are subjective. Kant's whole first critique is basically building up the case for us to trust our senses as being whats required for reality to exist at all. The limits of our abilities in their subjectivity, when considered in proper relation to one another, kind of go beyond what any of them would be capable of otherwise on their own, to sort of add up to something quasi-objective. He calls that transcendental.

But, later, Heidegger seized upon the skeptical arguments of Kant to smash apart philosophy from top to bottom. His debate with Cassier (a famous Neo-Kantian) and his subsequent book on Kant and Metaphysics illustrates how a good deal of scientific speculation and modern philosophy overshoot and reach beyond what is ever possible for humans to know anything about given our human being. He turned Kant inside out and showed how basically, the correct understanding of Kant reduces the abilities of human being to intuition and imagination. Which are wonderful, but, not in the "objective" way a lot of people think that they are.

Now here's the punch line: in mathematics, the foundations of mathematics, the philosophy of mathematics and so on, the big debate is "in what way are numbers and mathematics 'real'?" What is the nature of mathematical... objects? You see where I'm going? Platonists (and there are a lot of mathematical Platonists) think of them as existing in sort of a mathematical heaven, where models exist perfectly and mathematicians "discover" them as they already were. But lately, most people are intuitionists or constructivists; mathematical objects exist when its necessary for us to make them up. Think about imaginary numbers like the square root of negative one, in one sense such a number seems impossible and logically self contradictory... until it proves useful.

So, to tie back to the evolutionary equation one might say gives rise to knowledge beyond our deluded perception of reality... well... how could it do such a thing? Perceptual knowledge is a consequence of the goal of reproduction, but mathematics isn't? You know what I mean?

Last edited by StaticAge on Wed Jun 24, 2015 8:20 pm.

maurvir Outlier
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We have the somewhat unique ability to both imagine beyond our perceived reality, and build tools to allow us to explore those imaginations. The regular old microscope is an excellent example.

Before that, we were limited to what we could see directly with our unaided eyes. The entire world of microorganisms were hidden from us, and while we could see their effects, they were as unreal as magic to most people. With the invention of the microscope, our ability to perceive reality expanded, and now we take knowledge of the microbiotic world for granted. A similar example would be space telescopes - allowing us to see further into the past than we ordinarily could, or in wavelengths our eyes don't respond to.

Remember, it wasn't that long ago that people believed in Aether, or that the atom was the smallest unit of matter we could imagine. We have, as a species, continue to refine our knowledge of the world around us, and will continue to do so, even if the average person can't experience that reality in a "real" way.
radarman posted:
We have the somewhat unique ability to both imagine beyond our perceived reality, and build tools to allow us to explore those imaginations. The regular old microscope is an excellent example.

Before that, we were limited to what we could see directly with our unaided eyes. The entire world of microorganisms were hidden from us, and while we could see their effects, they were as unreal as magic to most people. With the invention of the microscope, our ability to perceive reality expanded, and now we take knowledge of the microbiotic world for granted. A similar example would be space telescopes - allowing us to see further into the past than we ordinarily could, or in wavelengths our eyes don't respond to.

Remember, it wasn't that long ago that people believed in Aether, or that the atom was the smallest unit of matter we could imagine. We have, as a species, continue to refine our knowledge of the world around us, and will continue to do so, even if the average person can't experience that reality in a "real" way.

Thats both true and incorrect in a beautiful way.

What is knowledge? I'd like to say its our understanding. Would you agree?

A large part of our coming to understand something is because we are able to "see" it in our mind's eye. Its not just acknowledgement of a chart or instantly gathering insights upon looking through a lens, but its being able to put together observations and tie them together with meaningful relationships we make between them. Imagination. Seeing with your minds eye. That is what understanding is. Even in math, we have to learn what the symbols mean and grasp how they interact in order to understand it. Its not simply following step by step algorithms that we know anything, its by understanding what is going on.

When we see things we learn are called "trees" is no different than when we look in a telescope and come to understand why the earth is not the center of the universe or when we learn F=ma and so on. Each time, when we digest knowledge, we come to imagine the world in a certain way. And those ways might differ from each other. Our various ways of conceiving the world does not change the world though. Red tomatoes exist in just the same universe that quarks do. One is not "more real" than the other. The only thing that changes is what we are concerned about. If we are doing particle physics, drawing a red tomato doesn't help. If you're making a BLT, you aren't concerned about particle physics. The way we imagine the world rises to our intentionality and directed-ness of our goings about.
Pariah Know Your Enemy
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What we perceive is not an "illusion", it is a subset of the available inputs filtered by evolution down to what we need to perceive to survive while allowing us to have a brain small enough to feed..
Personally I find the whole discussion tedious. Most of it is just intellectual masturbation splooged up onto a stage or across the pages of a book.
TOS
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i want to believe what duke believes
Vulture 420
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StaticAge posted:
radarman posted:
We have the somewhat unique ability to both imagine beyond our perceived reality, and build tools to allow us to explore those imaginations. The regular old microscope is an excellent example.

Before that, we were limited to what we could see directly with our unaided eyes. The entire world of microorganisms were hidden from us, and while we could see their effects, they were as unreal as magic to most people. With the invention of the microscope, our ability to perceive reality expanded, and now we take knowledge of the microbiotic world for granted. A similar example would be space telescopes - allowing us to see further into the past than we ordinarily could, or in wavelengths our eyes don't respond to.

Remember, it wasn't that long ago that people believed in Aether, or that the atom was the smallest unit of matter we could imagine. We have, as a species, continue to refine our knowledge of the world around us, and will continue to do so, even if the average person can't experience that reality in a "real" way.

Thats both true and incorrect in a beautiful way.

What is knowledge? I'd like to say its our understanding. Would you agree?

A large part of our coming to understand something is because we are able to "see" it in our mind's eye. Its not just acknowledgement of a chart or instantly gathering insights upon looking through a lens, but its being able to put together observations and tie them together with meaningful relationships we make between them. Imagination. Seeing with your minds eye. That is what understanding is. Even in math, we have to learn what the symbols mean and grasp how they interact in order to understand it. Its not simply following step by step algorithms that we know anything, its by understanding what is going on.

When we see things we learn are called "trees" is no different than when we look in a telescope and come to understand why the earth is not the center of the universe or when we learn F=ma and so on. Each time, when we digest knowledge, we come to imagine the world in a certain way. And those ways might differ from each other. Our various ways of conceiving the world does not change the world though. Red tomatoes exist in just the same universe that quarks do. One is not "more real" than the other. The only thing that changes is what we are concerned about. If we are doing particle physics, drawing a red tomato doesn't help. If you're making a BLT, you aren't concerned about particle physics. The way we imagine the world rises to our intentionality and directed-ness of our goings about.

This is very sublime and fantastic. I feel like you're saying "Everything already is". Whether or not we know it is or isn't or how it is or what enters our understanding that may have been just "being there" for billions of years at least, it already is and was! Things happen, we may or may not be aware of them. Mostly, we're not.
Vulture posted:
This is very sublime and fantastic. I feel like you're saying "Everything already is". Whether or not we know it is or isn't or how it is or what enters our understanding that may have been just "being there" for billions of years at least, it already is and was! Things happen, we may or may not be aware of them. Mostly, we're not.

Yeah, basically. The way the universe just is, and the way we just are, affects whatever we can say we know.

Imagine a person born deaf, who as a consequence, never has heard music before, but following a cochlear implant, is given headphones and listens to a piece of recorded music for the first time in their life.

While imagining this, also remember how sound effects have been used in movies, like when they designed the sound of the TIE fighter in Star Wars by blending the sound of an elephant with tire tracks on wet pavement and no one watching ever thought it sounded like either of those two things.

So, without being able to see the musicians recording the piece and which instruments are used, without having any meaningful definition of what rhythm or timber or pitch are, or any understanding of what harmony or discord are, or any of the ways that we, who grew up around music and connecting phenomena to the definitions of language so that we know what a guitar sounds like, we know what the drums are, we sense that the cymbals are distinct from the saxophone and so on, imagine what a formerly deaf person picks up on in the music. Where is that person's attention drawn to? As they begin to pick up on qualities of that music, how would they categorize them?

Could you imagine that they might not classify music the same way as everybody else? Maybe their ear picked up on some quality they could only describe as "glowwy" or "happy" or "bright" but is otherwise almost difficult to communicate. That would be because their attention to the sonic landscape was drawn in to those qualities and as they focussed on them, they began to imagine them as distinct from the rest of the whole in a very personal way.

Our definitions come prefabricated for the most part because our language and culture have already sliced up the world we live in into categories and definitions. And its useful for us so that we can relate, not only to the world, but with each other.

But even so, those definitions also reflect the way that individuals relate to the world. For example, children learning to talk are often experimenting with language and making guesses as to how words work and invent their own words sometimes as a consequence. I know one guy whose kid used the word "amn't", like "Amn't I a good boy?". No one taught him that, it just seemed like a logical word to the kid, so he invented it. If you think about it, asking "Aren't I?" is crazy. The thing is, the kid wasn't just mirroring the world around him, he was actively participating in it and imagining it and playing with it, and in the course of doing so, he was figuring out his own relationship to it and coming to understand it.

And that's what we all do. None of us speak exactly the same. You don't expect every one who tries their hand at paint or drawing or woodworking to create the exact same stuff as everyone else. When you learn science, what students take away as a result are going to differ from one another. Have you ever noticed that when you learns something new, you begin to start noticing it more? I remember 15 year ago my wife taking a botany course and showing me the different leaves of various trees. All of a sudden, I began to pick up on how many poplar trees were in the area. They were there the whole time, but I had never imagined them as such. But then, with my new understanding, I was able to distinguish them from the whole of the forest.

And the way we see the world makes it real for us. A 3 year old convinced of a monster in the closet isn't just pretending its there. Its very real for the child. We don't outgrow the way imagination makes the world real for us, we simply continue broadening the way we see the world so that older things we once thought of as real are now understood as naive or mistaken.
user Stupid cockwomble
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Vulture 420
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Here is another TED talk that may bring up the same core concepts of perception and an illusory world outside of perception.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Il_D3Xt9W0
Vulture 420
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theedgeofoblivious posted:
In this TED Talk, you can hear why there's good reason to question whether what we're perceiving is actually reality or just an approximation constructed by our brains.

He's admittedly not the most captivating speaker, but the subject matter is very interesting, and even gets into the nature of consciousness.

I watched this video again, trying to pay attention to the subtle details in the wording he chose to deliver these ideas, and now I see he brushes upon a concept involving space and time and three dimensions versus 2 dimensional reality, and it makes more sense that he's referring to the Holographic Universe concept without ever saying so. It's almost as if he's dancing around the concept and using evolutionary equations run hundreds of thousands of times to suggest how his data points to such a concept. I could be projecting though since I'm always thinking about it and consciousness these days, and they all are intertwined.
Lots of people want to try and boil down the universe to a "fundamental" level.

Some physicists and mathematicians think of the equations or numbers as being that level.
Some people would rather qualify that level as information.
Some believe that something like "spirit" is the fundamental level of existence.
The holographic universe is yet another theory of what the essence of the universe is.

These are all ways people try to reduce everything into one singular concept.

But, to me, the truly fundamental essence of reality is experiencing life, being in the world, and one interesting thing about living your life in this world, is that it doesn't seem reducible into just one way of describing it.

So, there is no "fundamental" level of description. Physics is all true, but you can never add up all the equations to get the sense of what its like to be outside in the setting of the sun and feeling the breeze and smelling cut grass while talking with a person you are in love with. Any reduction cuts out stuff thats considered non-essential, but what is considered "essential" or most important can't be a matter for science or philosophy to answer.
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TED Talks: We have reason to believe what we don't perceive: