TED Conversations

Harald Jezek

Owner, Nuada beauty+wellness


This conversation is closed.

What is reality ?

Did you ever think about what it is that makes reality real ?
How is our reality created ? Isn't it the perceptions our brain creates based on our sensory inputs ?
But what if we lack a sense ? How does reality change for somebody who cannot hear or see ?
Or take it even a step further, assume you are deprived of all your senses, What would reality mean in such a case ?
And last but not least, let's assume you are born without any senses. What would that mean to your reality ?
So what is reality and what are we as part of this reality ?


Closing Statement from Harald Jezek

Thanks everybody for participating in this conversation.
After 900+ comments did we solve the question of what reality actually is ? Probably not, however it was a good exercise in contemplating what it actually means when we say this or this is "real".
What most of us agreed upon is that there are different aspects to reality.

One is the reality we deal with on a daily basis and which we share to a large degree. For example we agree upon common things, such as when we see a car we all agree it's a car, a tree is a tree and a house if a house.
Although we know that this reality is created by our mind based on sensory inputs which is not only incomplete but often also faulty, it still is "real" because we share the same benchmarking (same sensory inputs, generally same mechanism how our brain interprets those sensory inputs.

Beside this shared reality we all have our own reality. This can be something simple like the perception of a taste, odor or a color.
Although we might agree that a given color is read or an odor is that of a pine, we never can know how another person actually perceives this sensory input.
Individual reality also becomes visible in our beliefs. For a religious person the existence of a God is a fact and hence part of reality while for an atheist reality is free of such a God.
Differences in this aspect of reality can also be observed in how different people get different perceptions of the same situation.

Last but not least there must be an underlying objective reality which includes the laws of nature (whether those are the ones we believe are valid today or perhaps something even deeper which we don't have discovered yet) and which exists regardless of us being here to contemplate it and regardless of our beliefs.

Next time we insist something is real, let's think whether it's real for me, for all(most) of us or real in an absolute sense.

To finish with Albert Einstein:
"“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

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    Nov 24 2013: Reality is an illusion.

    It's one of those words which defy definition. Google defines reality as "the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them." But what does it mean to "exist"? Here is the definition from Google again: "Exist: have objective reality or being." There you go.

    Here are some more things to ponder for you: "free will", "consciousness", "self", "omnipotence", "omniscience". I gave up on trying to understand these things. What does it mean to "understand", by the way? And what does it mean to "make sense"?

    There is also a saying "reality causes a major stress in people who are in touch with it". It may be best to leave this question unasked. :-)
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      Nov 24 2013: I like the honesty in your comment. Thanks.
    • Nov 25 2013: I liked the saying you quoted "reality causes a major stress in people who are in touch with it". Fortunately some structures can withstand the stresses within and without. I am glad you gave up trying to understand those things ... and hope you decided to focus in understanding them.

      Definitely some possibilities are best to leave as just possibilities.

      Keep in mind that the goal of the questions-answers some interactions centers on learning
      ... a teacher used to say : "there are no dumb questions, only dumb answers" ...
      .... then he met one of those teachers disguised as a student who showed him the truth of the matter...
      ... and the teacher became the student and the student became the teacher as they shared a learning experience to truly understand the truth of the matter.

      Many can give you the answer to the questions you put forth for each and all to see... question is will someone understand and make sense of them contributions in a meaningful way.

      BTW words are like energy-matter and ideas... its what one does with them that determines whether they function right and cultivate well-being or function in a different fashion.
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        Nov 25 2013: This is one of my favorite TED talks:
        I love the quote "we can all see matter, but we cannot see what IS the matter".
        • Nov 25 2013: Thanks,

          I managed to get a couple of good points from that ... one being that : "you cant see light only what it hits"
          The other being something to the effect of "Cant see cant understand... some projecting that it doesn't exist"
          The real knocker ideas there where towards the end: the two fundamental questions and a subtle message...

          ... If you ask me, only one of the queries is actually relevant .... it has to do with what to do? which to me involves being better... help each other .... to better understand ... to better make sense of the what be... to better each point and actually see what is the matter and what to do 'with' it...

          Wonder a bit why the clip included so much negative framing... almost seems as if that Ignostic wanted to cultivate it ... Do notice that the narrator called himself that and declared to refuses to be drawn on the question of the existence of God unless someone properly define the term. I suppose it has something to do with a fixation with the dim stars rather than an appreciation of the mundane and the divine. To a point the more light there is the more we see certain things and the less we see other thing. It also works the other way, to a point the less light there is the more we see certain things and the less we see other thing. In the open we see certain behaviors while we tend to see other behaviors behind closed doors.
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        Nov 25 2013: The animation is based on John Lloyd's TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/john_lloyd_inventories_the_invisible.html. I like the animation better for the great visuals.

        Re: "it has to do with what to do? which to me involves being better... help each other .... to better understand ... to better make sense of the what be... to better each point and actually see what is the matter and what to do 'with' it..."

        He addresses this in his last quote: "We are here on earth to help others. What the others are here for, I've no idea." :-)

        I don't view this video as negative. I guess, the message of the talk is to "empty our cup" of our preconceived opinions so that we can learn something new and perceive things as they are instead of perceiving them "as we are".
        • Nov 25 2013: Arkady,

          Thanks for providing the second link I can 'perceive' the animations resemblance ... well as far as I can tell its the same audio for both of them :-) In my response I first included the quote you mentioned and then decided to use a bit of a different framing... which shifted the focus from "We are here on earth to help others" to - We are here to be better - yea that may involve helping others or helping each other to be better... just as it may involve not helping others and even taking actions to interfering into what others want to do... To me it was important to make that 'subtle differentiation'.

          For the record like you "I don't view this video as negative"... what I basically asked out loud was "why the clip included so much negative framing". Which sought to draw attention into wondering about the framings individuals choose to use. Take for example this paragraph. What are the ideas and the framings here? Let me use a different approach ... we agree on the notion "learn something new and perceive things as they are instead of perceiving them 'as we are'". It just you propose that we should "empty our cup" of our preconceived opinions so that we can do that, where as I propose that we should "fill our cup" with the appropriate conceptions and opinions so that we can do that. Note that it's actually impossible to empty a cup, a cup is always full! Note that its certainly possible to fill the cup with air then fill it with something else. If I instructed "not to think of an apple" what was it you thought and then tried not to think of it? Had I said think of an elephant, its highly unlikely that you would had thought of an apple.

          In principle we agree while in practice we each seem to follow a different path... (Well maybe its the same path and we are just going in different directions).
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      Nov 25 2013: Have you gone past the illusion or should I say layers of illusions?
      • Nov 25 2013: Larry,
        wonder who you are directing that question to... if its to me... then well lets just say that rather than focusing on determining if one be asleep or awake I just focus on what to do in the state I be in ... either way it focuses on always choosing the best possible option.

        Do note I said "always choosing the best possible option" which may or may not correspond to what I/you/others may think is the best possible option.
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          Nov 25 2013: Re "here" and "there" (your post below). You need to see this :-))

          Re: "BTW how do you manage to chose a starting point different from the point you be at?" It's funny, but not only I always start from where I am, but I also always end up where I am. I don't think, I can be anywhere except where I am, so it appears to me, that this is where I am ought to be.

          "We are here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine."
          -- Henry Louis Mencken

          This distinction between "ought" and "is" seems to be a major source of anxiety and dissatisfaction with life. We are happy when "ought" is the same as "is". We are unhappy/angry/frustrated when we think that what "is" is not what "ought". We can bring them together by "going where we want to be" or just "wanting to be where we are".

          Re: "ehm.... my beliefs are based on something rather than nothing :-)"

          Yeah, I know. And why do you believe that your beliefs are based on something? And what are they based on? My bet is, on some other belief. And if you say, they are based on facts, then you got to believe that you perceive and interpret these facts correctly. So, in the end, we either find "turtles all the way down" or base our beliefs on some tautology like "Reality is real" or "I think that I think, therefore I am." Or come to a contradiction like "I know that I know nothing." And that's where we should stop and hold our peace.
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        Nov 25 2013: Yes. I think, I've peeled this onion with layers of illusions to discover that there is nothing in the middle. This is why I made my post.

        This is a liberating understanding. As Esteban points out, we still need to live and do something to make our life "better". And since there is nothing "at the heart of the onion", we have to create a starting point, a belief. And, again, since there is nothing "at the heart of the onion", we have a great freedom in choosing the starting point. It does not have to be based on "evidence" because we do not know that evidence is real and how to prove the proof or find evidence that the evidence is "true". We don't even know what "truth" is. It has something to do with "reality" which nobody can define. It's a rabbit hole of infinite regress. Our core belief does not have to be based on reality since nobody can define what it is. So, we can freely choose our core beliefs: define our meaning of "better", to begin with.

        Since I realize that my core beliefs are not based on anything, I'm tolerant to other people's beliefs because I know that they are also not based on anything.
        • Nov 25 2013: ehm.... my beliefs are based on something rather than nothing :-) and my starting point is from the point I be at... that way I can start and take the first step right away without having to figure out how to move from where I happen to be to where I choose to start from... BTW how do you manage to chose a starting point different from the point you be at?

          Then again maybe the point that we ought to keep in mind and focus upon has to do where we be going ---- getting there might just be a bit easier if we seek to get there!

          where we are, where we ought to be, next step to get there is a simple heuristic to follow.

          Seems to me that you pick the nothing onion... and believe all onions are the same. A simple definition of truth involves positive congruence between claim and fact... when one chooses to think to be what happens to be one gets to know from what one thinks what happens to be... Reality is defined as what be. There I just defined it... I suppose that based on what you said that make me be a nobody... in somebody... how about that I am both material and immaterial in nature.... sounds about right... body-mind-spirit and a bit more...

          Yea you /each can choose their core beliefs: each can define their meaning of "better" and if they happen to define it according to what be better they got the better definition right... I concur "our core belief does not have to be based on reality" but when they are its much more better...

          Do notice that if 'my core beliefs are not based on anything' then implicitly that means core beliefs are based on something!
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          Nov 25 2013: Arkady, Yes, is think. A thought, one always followed by another. How can I find peace in this? I can not think my way to the core. Although thinking can bring me closer. The last step involves giving up everything. My mind, my thinking, my senses and plunging into the nothing. For me there was great fear involved. You have a core, a center, a heart, whatever you want to call it. Be determined and vigilant do not settle for nothing. I would like to leave a quote for you.


          Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

          Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

          It is our light and not our darkness that most frightens us.

          Your playing small does not serve the world.

          There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

          We are all meant to shine as children do.

          It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone and as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

          As we are liberated from our own fear our presence automatically liberates others.
        • Nov 25 2013: Larry,

          First, thank you for that...

          Know that I can find peace in a thought followed by another ... maybe it has to do with the thought one chooses to think. I think I understand what you state and while in principle seem to agree with it I also think that one can think all the way to the core. Rather than giving up everything I consider its about embracing everything as one ought to embrace each thing. I can see how plunging into the nothing can be fearful, its like stepping into the unknown. I can also see how stepping into the unknown can be divine especially when plunging into something divine. As you sort of pointed out there exists a core, a center, a heart, whatever you want to call it. Be determined and vigilant do only settle for the actual truth of the matter and doing what ought to be done upon getting it.

          THE deepest fear of fear is not that FEAR is inadequate, THE deepest fear is that FEAR be irrelevant to the lovely beyond measure beings who step into the unknown without fear. Moving to that domain of peace, and joy, and happiness that knows fear only as a distant possibility that shall forever remain as such, a distant possibly.

          I find curious how it seems everyone wants other to be just like them... the superior want other to raise up to their level and the inferior want others to lower down to their level... the things isn't about levels its about what one be doing there.
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          Nov 26 2013: Arkady,
          That you have peeled the onion to find nothing inside and that such realization is liberating to you is because you have reached (or almost reached) a point where the destination starts to move with you. I think we all reach that point somehow.
          We live in multiple realities, none being a preferred one. In one level we crave the reality to be absolute, visceral, raw and fleshy as if our life depends on it. In other level, we see the center of the onion and feel in our guts that we are after all in a 'pretend play', albeit an adult version of it.
          I find this script with the doubtful beginning, confusing climax and uncertain end utterly interesting.
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        Nov 26 2013: Re: the quote.

        I've seen it. It belongs to Marianne Williamson. A good one. Of course, I don't settle for "nothing". I create my own "core". My reality is my beliefs. If I believe I have free will, it is as I say. If I believe I am happy, it is as I say. If I believe, I love my wife, it is as I say. If I believe, people are good in their heart, it is as I say. You see, these beliefs are not based on anything other than "self" (that's how I understand "I am who I am" mentioned in Exodus 3:14), there is no fear of losing them. But if I base them on "something" (an idol), they will disappear as soon as the idol corrupts and falls.
        • Nov 26 2013: I remember the first temptation in the bible involved seeking the place of God for oneself...

          BTW if you base them on God ... well they will remain even if you disappear
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          Nov 26 2013: The quote from Marianne is brought forth from the principles of ACIM. She is the extension of those principles. Does it belong to her or is a gift being passed to everyone? I do have free will and when I see the choice I recognize I have no choice. Is not self the ultimate false idol? The only thing I am capable of making of myself is an empty shell of human existence. When I look upon that I see nothing.
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          Nov 26 2013: Esteban, You've really done it now, you have used the God word.
        • Nov 26 2013: Larry,

          Yea I used the word, some will smile and some will snarl :-)

          Originally had no idea what you meant by ACIM and decided to look it up and saw that it likely refers to a course in miracles... Is it a gift that wraps the same old apple that eve and adam got offered?

          Each does have free will (well if we don't any dialogue about free will is mute as each just does what they have to do). I hold to believe we each see the choices ... some choose to recognize that they have no choice and choose no choice while some choose to recognize that they have a choice and recognize the choices for what they be and make the right choice.

          To answer your question about self... self is self what each self chooses to do with self determines is self becomes the ultimate false idol or becomes a self. I made a comment the other day related to escapism the ego needs to be educated rather than negated. Similarly with the self it needs to be guided to do what ought to be done as it ought to be done. When I look upon that I see that and a bit more.
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        Nov 26 2013: Re: "Is not self the ultimate false idol? The only thing I am capable of making of myself is an empty shell of human existence. When I look upon that I see nothing."

        The physical "self" - yes. But, as many people mention here, "self" seems to be more than the physical shell. Simply because when a person dies, we do not speak of his body as we spoke of the person. We describe it as his body.

        There is nothing *physical* at the core of the onion, but where does it grow from? There is some principle at the core. It grows from "self".
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          Nov 26 2013: As for me if I see an empty shell in the physical outer I know the source of the reflection. When someone dies, I will leave that to a higher authority. At the core may we find the sum of all principles. self or Self grows from what it's fed.
        • Nov 26 2013: Arkady,

          Thank you for your comment... :
          "self" seems to be more than the physical shell.
          There is nothing *physical* at the core of the onion

          at the core of the onion is something non-physical !

          Didn't see that one coming .... and appreciated it when exposed!
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        Nov 26 2013: I once saw this in a grocery store

        This pattern is fascinating because it is self-repeating. It is extremely common in nature. Shapes of flowers, pine cones, pine apples, tree leaves, sea shells, hurricanes, and galaxies are based on the same principle which, in this case, is described by Fibonacci series.

        Most physical processes are described by exponential functions. Exponential functions are also extremely common in nature. They describe most oscillations and waves. Reason? What's so special about them? Nothing other than they happen to be their own derivative and thus, a solution to most differential equations that describe natural processes.

        Most beautiful and most powerful things in the universe seem to be based on the same principle - they build on "self". I'd say, this "self", as a principle, transcedes the physical nature of the things where it is present. The substance and the physical nature of a broccoli flower is different from that of a galaxy, but they are still formed by the same principle. This "self" cannot be physically found. Numbers, patterns, and laws are ideas.

        Ideas are often juxtaposed with reality. But it seems impossible to have ideas without physical things they represent or perceive physical things without forming an idea of what that thing is.
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          Nov 27 2013: Fractals also fall in the same category, I guess. I agree with your idea of self as my observation is that in exponential growth that most natural systems follow, complexity followed by some typical phenomena like self replication, emergence and fractalization are common.
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      • Nov 26 2013: Jason,

        Why should we consider your definition of reality as the definitive definition of reality?
        In other words why should someone think that what you think to be corresponds to what be rather than think what be?
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          Nov 27 2013: Esteban, one would consider Jason's definition simply to deal with the ought/is dichotomy to find a rational common ground. I, by no means, am saying Jason is 'absolutely' right. Just that what he is saying appears to me a rational view with more and more commenters arguing in the same line.
      • Nov 27 2013: Pabitra,

        I agree we ought seek and to find a 'rational' common ground. The thing is that many use the notion "its my way or the highway" and when one responds to them: "Fine let the common ground be the highway" they insist that any common ground can only be their way.... It would be fine if their way corresponded with a truly rational form or had a direct correspondence with the highway... I can even deal with twisted logics of opposites... the thing is that there confusion reins! If you managed to understand that there understanding reins (because the opposite of confusion is understanding) you understand how simple it can be :-)

        Again if we focus on just appearances rather than the actual content we may get some surprises ! I like good surprises and the others I will pass them up...
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    Nov 28 2013: Hi everybody, this conversation will soon come to an end. As the author of this conversation I will be asked to make a final statement.
    However, I prefer that all of you who participated in this conversation just provide a final post summarizing your own views on the topic.
    This way we avoid that somebody gets left out or misinterpreted.

    • Nov 28 2013: Harald,

      In addition to what you proposed which I find ought to be done I wonder IF as a group of participants we can unite to produce a shared document.

      Personally I would like to read in the individuals final post a recount
      1- What ideas they found valuable
      2- What ideas made them wonder the most
      3- What notions changed thanks to this conversation (and which stayed the same)
      4- If they where to go at it again what would they do different

      You all know we are close to that time of the year where one makes their wish lists...
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        Nov 29 2013: Creating a shared document might be a bit a stretch, considering that this format here is not conductive for any collaborative work.
        Beside, nothing will be lost. This conversation will stand here also for people that might be interested to read it in the future.
        Just getting a general summary of everybody's point of view, perhaps integrating the 4 points you suggested would be good enough. Whoever wants more detail can read the individual posts.
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      Dec 1 2013: Thanks for the invitation to share our perception of the conversation Harald.

      The conversation seems to reinforce the perception of reality I had at the beginning of this discussion, in that there are a variety of meanings and applications for “reality”, some of which have been expressed here.

      There is objective reality, which may be more scientific, with tangible evidence, and there is subjective reality which may be influenced by many internal and external factors.

      What seems like evidenced, objective reality, can still be rejected by some people whose belief system, as created, does not accept the evidence. An example might be evolution, for which there is considerable evidence, and yet the evidence is rejected in favor of what appears in holy books as their personal “evidence”. We may, as groups, share perspectives, depending on our own personal belief system.

      Subjective reality, seems to include our personal thoughts, feelings, ideas, beliefs, perspectives, impressions, presumptions, assumptions, etc., all of which may be influenced by many sources, and include our own personal experiences and perceptions.

      I did not address your question about “senses” because I am not aware of anyone ever being born with no senses whatsoever, and with a quick search, I could not find any information about that, so my belief at this time, is that everyone has some senses, which may differ from what is considered “normal”, but none the less important and valuable.

      As I said in one of my first comments in this discussion…
      “Within the simple concept, there may be complex information on many different levels for different people. So, what an individual can or cannot sense or perceive is subjective.... how one's brain processes sensory input data and supply the compiled interpretation to one's ego/self is subjective, and there are probably other elements that are subjective as well.”

      You did a good job of facilitating Harald....thanks:>)
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    Nov 30 2013: As per Harald's request, I am trying to sum up the question, the answers, different insights and whatever I learnt from this discussion.
    Things (both physical and non-physical) exist within and beyond the boundary of known and knowable. Reality is that part of the existence that is included within our perception through senses, understanding, logic, introspection, inference, feeling and belief. Some of reality is rational, explainable and demonstrable - most of us agree with that. Some, however, are beyond reason and explanation and we have our individual say on it.
    There is a part of physical reality that scientists and philosophers work on and strive to find out a common, underlying understanding and agreement (a theory of everything). There is a standard model of it, but true to scientific tradition it is open to challenge and transmutable.
    I have found no proof, logic, evidence or hypothesis, this discussion included, to accept the notion that there is an objective, absolute, perception independent reality (an 'explain all' version of it) as more preferable to an observer/perception dependent, relative, transmutable and subjective reality ( a personal, 'aha' version of it) up till now. I am open but will prefer to follow Ockham's principle, which states that among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected.
    This had been a great discussion. I will thank Harald and all those who contributed.
    @Arkady: Peeling onion may be more interesting than finding anything at its center. :)
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    Nov 26 2013: Esteban, I can't reply to your post below so I just start a new one referring to:
    "the 9/11 notion... the fact of the matter is that it is what it is... you believe it being real doesn't make it be real....."
    It doesn't matter what I believe. The earth is round, no matter whether or not I believe it. 9/11 was no conspiracy as some people believe. Again, that's the case independent of my belief.
    If for some reason our knowledge about something changes (e.g. the earth is a cube) we will adjust our "belief" accordingly.
    Again, we are running in circles.
    On one hand I "accused" you of not putting any value on evidence. You denied that, yet you keep insisting that evidence (e.g. evidence showing us that 9/11 was a terrorist attack) cannot be trusted.
    So what is it ? And if you don't trust evidence what do you trust ? Your intuition ? voices speaking to you in your head ?
    • Nov 26 2013: H call me E (if it's ok with you?)

      Yea I did the same thing responded up above to another post...

      We agree in that: it is what it is depending on what it is.

      In relationship to 9/11 the evidence would demonstrate if it was a controlled demolition or the result of the airplanes crashing ... we agree in that whatever the case happens to be that's the case independent of what you or me may belief to be the case. From the evidence we know that some will NOT adjust their 'beliefs' accordingly to the evidence.

      Yea I noticed that you keep "accusing " me of stuff like not putting any value on evidence that a single fact will lead you to change your stand on the matter yet when I presented such evidence (in one particular case) you basically just brushed it aside and continued to insists on more examples.

      Yes I keep insisting that "evidence" should be questioned and cannot be trusted... ironically its based on the evidence of the past where individuals where so certain of their claims and assertions that they missed being misguided by other who eloquently and authoritatively pushed their case. I am sure that if you seek you will find enough evidence to support what I just stated... though at this time I doubt that you will go that way...

      In another post I sort of explained what I trust... a unifying congruent story that incorporates every perspective coherently ... Intuition has its place, as does logic, as does heuristics, as does feelings as does many other factors... by the way voices speaking to you in your head sound like thought seeking your attention... beware that some opposing ideas like to silence their opposites because if you where to compare the opposers vs drivers next to each other you would always pick the drivers!
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        Nov 26 2013: "Yes I keep insisting that "evidence" should be questioned and cannot be trusted."
        So here we go again, if evidence is not trustworthy, what is it ? A question that I asked already several times to no avail.
        You seem to misunderstand evidence. Evidence in itself is no guarantee for something to be true. Evidence is not proof.
        However, the more and better the evidence for a theory the more likely that this theory is true.
        Example: We take it as a given that the earth is round (well, almost round) based on a vast amount of evidence.
        Can you question this evidence ? Sure you can, but you will have to provide an alternative and support this alternative with evidence on its own and if your evidence showing that the earth is a cube is of higher quality than the one showing it's round then people will start listening to you.
        But, just saying I don't trust evidence without providing alternatives is absolutely meaningless from a scientific point of view.

        ".... as does many other factors......." vague as usual ;-)
        What are the "many other factors" ? Be specific.
        If you write up a scientific theory you can't say, well, my theory is based on A, B and a "lot of other factors".
        • Nov 27 2013: Harald,

          You ask : if evidence is not trustworthy, what is it ?
          evidently it still is evidence.

          I would had hoped that by now you would had recognized that its not about how likely something may be it is about what actually happens to be.
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    Nov 25 2013: I’m going to attempt to answer this question however; I do believe I’m under qualified, especially among you elite intellectuals. I say this with the utmost admiration.

    I follow the Copenhagen interpretation, “there is no deep reality”. “Our senses are constituted to give us an impression of a material world, but that this reality is a reflection of something of a different nature.” Our physical senses each have a spectrum, these senses perceives the sea of energy from a certain limited standpoint and makes up an image from that. This image is just an interpretation. Our interpretations are solely based on the ‘internal map’ of reality which is a result of our collective experiences.

    Copenhagen interpretation states that we create reality by observation and that there is no reality without observation. Heisenberg divides the universe into real and semi-real and considers the elementary particles to be only potentialities or possibilities. They are made real only by the act of observation. In the not real world of potentia, all of the reactions are present. Only one of these possibilities manifests in the real world. This possibility is made solid (physically apparent) only by consciousness.

    Consciousness is an ability to be aware of external forces. Cellular life and plant cells fall in this category. Their awareness is considered very rudimentary, but cells do sense in a chemical way light, heat, foreign cells, pH condition in liquids and other states of matter that can be good or bad for their survival. Awareness (consciousness) can be reduced to very minimal states. Additionally, any action also involves a large number of conscious entities. The people, plants, animals and all things that are considered as part of the action, will have input into the degree of control of the action and reaction. This depends on each entities’ ability to phase quantum waves of possibility so that they add amplitudes enough to make them apparent in our physical world.
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      Nov 25 2013: Christine, There is non among us greater than you. I f you have a birth mark you've been approved if not get a tattoo are we will accept that. Intellect is a double edge sword, understand that.
    • Nov 25 2013: Christine

      I see that reality contains within it a space of infinite of possibilities (some of which remain as possibilities and some which manifest into reality). I too hold that "Only one of these possibilities manifests in the real world". To me, what possibility manifest in reality depends on a bunch of stuff that may or may not depend on the observers or individual consciousness. While we only experience reality through what we think, this map we use could accurately correspond to the reality itself... In other words if one thinks to be what actually be the map and the territory become singular identical copies corresponding to each other and picking one or the other is basically the same thing. That can't be said when what one thinks to be differs from what actually happens to be. The reality that I consider existing has material and immaterial stuff in fact the human being integrates body-mind-spirit and partakes in those three dimensions and a bit more ... Humans even have the capacity to create stuff or rearrange the existing stuff. We ought to be good caretaker of the places we happen upon.
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      Nov 25 2013: Christine,
      It's sort of lonely in the high tower of intellect. Thanks for joining. :)
      Honestly, you said it nicely.
      • Nov 25 2013: Some have the illusion that they are there all alone because they only perceive those who see similar to them. :-) they just need to widen their understanding ... of course one may also have to wonder why they be at the tower of intellect rather than the library of intellect :-)
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          Nov 25 2013: I took Pabitra's post as a joke. There is not an ounce of arrogance in him.
      • Nov 25 2013: I did too! and responded in kind with a post that was intended as a joke... and also included a bit of truth... I hope you take my post as a joke too...

        BTW the moment I thought of something you mentioned was when you mentioned it...
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      Nov 25 2013: Christine, I think there is no disagreement with your comment, however, the observer principle is something that applies to the quantum world but not the macro world.
      In other words, our universe will still be here regardless of us being around to observe it or not. Best proof for that is probably that the universe is much older than we are. So, obviously it was around long before we showed up to observe it.
      Actually when we go with Feynman's "sum of all histories" then our universe is just one of many, however, we can't observe them.
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    Nov 23 2013: Eventually, reality comes down to what one experiences -- either somebody has one or more senses, or has no senses. It's difficult to imagine what would be the reality for someone born without any senses. But the one certain thing is that whatever any reality he/she experience, that reality will be always related to his/her consciousness, exactly like anyone born with senses. So consciousness in whatever form is finally the sole conceiver of any reality one lives in.
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      Nov 23 2013: Let's assume a person is born without any senses (let's also assume that's possible). Do you think that consciousness would develop without any sensory input ?
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        Nov 24 2013: As I wrote in my comment, ”It's difficult to imagine what would be the reality for someone born without any senses”. But please see that your question is not that simple as it looks. Because it should be noticed that among the 5 senses we have, 4 are very sophisticated, and so perhaps we can imagine that somehow one might for some reasons could be born without them. But there’s the 5th sense which is not that sophisticated, but also I guess it’s the most direct and basic one, and that is the sense of Touch. Perhaps better to say it’s actually the 1st sense, as I guess it was the first to be developed in the most primitive life forms 3 billion years ago. So I just don’t know if it’s ever possible to completely lacking that sense on each and every centimeter of the human skin.

        However, even we assume it’s possible to completely missing all the senses, it should be remembered that reality is not composed only from outwardly impressions but also from inwardly /feelings//thoughts//imagination. So, suppose this utterly senseless person walks. Since he is missing even the sense of Touch, he does not feel whether the ground under his feet is cold or hot, thorny or smooth, hard or soft and so on. But still he has got the feeling that something is supporting his legs from underneath, because otherwise he could not walk. Assuming his brain is functioning well, this would be his rational conclusion. Henceforth, his imagination will get into action and start building his mental reality and so on.
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          Nov 25 2013: We tend to think in pictures. If somebody says "car" you get a mental picture of a car and know what this person is talking about. If you never saw a car before you still could ask questions as what this object is about and once explained to you, you most likely would have a good understanding of the term car.
          However, a person without any senses couldn't create mental images because they rely on memories and past experiences, nor could he ask questions to narrow down what the object in question might be.
          In other words, could this person even develop thoughts, imaginations and feelings ? Don't they always rely on past experiences and memories of one sort or another ?
          Hence, he wouldn't be able to conclude anything. Actually I assume he wouldn't even be able to formulate a thought.
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        Nov 24 2013: I think no, the person will have no consciousness at all. I am in a little disagreement with Yubal and let me explain why.
        Human beings have more than 5 senses. They have 5 specialized sensory organs. But those 5 and rest of all sensory processing are done by the brain directly or indirectly. So if we take it that a human being has strictly no sense, there is no communication of outward stimuli to the brain and the brain is only conducting business of the internal working of the body. That being the case, I think, the basic premises of a self recognizing consciousness is lost.
        There is a valid scientific theory of the evolution of a complex brain in animals that says that the it evolved from the basic necessity of locomotion. So merely walking would require neuro-sensory support (hence some form of consciousness).
        It may be possible that some form of consciousness is existent in organisms devoid of a highly developed specialized organ such as a brain. But still they must be able to exchange information with the environment surrounding them in order to live. That exchange will ensure some form of consciousness.
        This part of discussion is interesting as it points out to the dependence of reality on the sense/perception and consciousness.
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        Nov 26 2013: Harald, this is my reply to your last comment "We tend to think in pictures."

        You make a very good point. I agree with your analysis with car. But please see that in your reply also you are thinking in pictures. Because our conceptions are not limited to only what we see, hear, touch...etc. You are giving this example and come to such conclusion because we have these senses and they occupy our mind. We get indulged in these sensory impressions because they grab the domination on our minds, as they are so powerful. And as such, we build our reality under their domination. So you are perhaps correct in saying that such senseless person could not ever imagine what a car is and also other mental images. But who says that's the only possible way to create the overall mental images ??

        If we return to my previous example, where such a senseless person walks or even just lies permanently in his bed, assuming his brain is functioning OK....... Please try to imagine how he would be thinking. Can you say beyond any reasonable doubt that he can't create absolutely any image of some possible reality in his mind, using his imagination ?? It does not mean that the reality he creates in his mind is correct or factually true. But that IS the only image of reality existing in his mind.
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          Nov 26 2013: Hi Yubal, you are right, I can't say beyond a reasonable doubt that a person born without senses can't think anything at all. Perhaps a neuro scientist could answer this question with more certainty. Maybe the brain could resort to another mental "language". Who knows ?
          However, when we analyze our own thoughts, aren't they all made of our experiences and memories that our mind created based on whatever sensory input we got at some point in our lives ? Is there anything in your mind that wouldn't have required any sensory input ?
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        Nov 27 2013: Harald, this a reply to your reply, "Hi Yubal, you are right, I can't say beyond a reasonable doubt......."

        I assume that when you say "sensory input", you mean only to external sensory input. My reply and all my arguments from the beginning are based on this assumption.

        I am not sure that everything we think, imagine, feel is made only from external sensory input. In our routine way of life and thinking it's extremely difficult to analyze and try to differentiate between what is originated in our minds from external input and what from our in-built qualities. There had been all along the history major debates and controversies between these 2 outlooks.

        But we don't need to go that far. Suppose you eat a mango and experience it's taste. Now somebody who had never seen and eaten a mango asks you to scientifically and verbally analyze the taste of mango for him. With all the sophisticated scientific instruments we have invented, and with all the highest verbal skill anybody can have, will it be ever possible to describe the mango's taste for such a person ?? No. Because the very experience of mango's taste, like perhaps all other our experiences, are beyond any verbal or scientific analysis. What scientific or verbal analysis do, is just to map our experiences and to express them in technical or illustrative terms. But they are not able to replace the very experience itself. It's the same with our much deeper emotions like happiness, anger, love....etc. Indeed they can be provoked by external sensory input, but they are not exclusively dependent just on the external input.
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          Nov 27 2013: "I am not sure that everything we think, imagine, feel is made only from external sensory input"
          No. I'm not certain either, but on the other hand, when I try analyzing my thoughts I always have to conclude that at some point, the source for them was a sensory input.

          "With all the sophisticated scientific instruments we have invented, and with all the highest verbal skill anybody can have, will it be ever possible to describe the mango's taste for such a person ??"
          Well, we certainly can analyze all the components that make up the aroma of a mango and the fragrance industry uses this capability extensively in order to manufacture artificial flavors and fragrances.
          The real question is whether or not we are able to communicate a odor or taste, or any sensory experience in such a way that another person gets a 100 % accurate impression of our own experience, I agree with you, I don't think we can.
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        Nov 28 2013: Even if we prepare artificially the perfect flavor and odor, finally that person needs to taste that artificial product to know what is the taste of mango. There's no another way.
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      Nov 24 2013: Just a notice - no living creature can survive if it is having no sensations - sensations indicate the very basic process of life. Brains cannot function at all withoit any sensations (even in clinical experience of cases of intensive care artificial support). Absolutely Senseless "person" will not walk, unless it is a robot.
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      Nov 25 2013: If I understand your point correctly, Yubal, you, essentially, say, that whenever we have life, we have some sort of sensory input processing. I think, we have many more senses than 5. The 5 are just the most obvious - we are aware of them. There is also a sense of gravity and balance. It seems to be distinct from the 5 usually mentioned. We are also processing signals from our internal organs. E.g. feeling constipated or feeling fatigue in our muscles does not seem to fall into into any of the 5 senses. So, when you say that a person deprived of senses would still have some sort of self-awareness, you seem to limit the meaning of "senses" to the 5 classical ones. Which, essentially, means that there will be other senses to build consciousness upon.

      Pabitra's point seems to be that in the absense of ALL senses, consciousness is impossible. After all, we would have no information to be aware of ourselves. Without sensory input, there is nothing to be "aware" or "conscious" of and there is no way to be. I think, the common ground in what you say is "whenever we have life, we have some sort of sensory input processing" - simply because life means adapting to external conditions which implies a feedback system.

      But here is a related question: Is what's going on inside my body "internal" to "me"? What is "I"? Is it just my body or something transcedental? My brain melts down when I ponder these questions.
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        Nov 25 2013: Arkady & Pabitra, excellent distinctions you make about the various sorts of senses. You are also right that I had limited the senses to the 5 input senses from the external. I did that because for me that is the first meaning when talking hereby about senses. There are 2 reasons for that.

        1. SENSE by Oxford dictionary:
        The first meaning there: “faculty by which the body perceives an external stimulus; one of the faculties of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch.”

        2. The host of this discussion asks most of his questions at the title regarding these 5 senses. Just In his 2nd last question he asks about getting born without any senses, but still in that question there’s a hidden pre-assumption that our awareness is functioning.

        However, people too easily ignore our internal world which is emotions, imagination, thoughts – which all influence our consciousness. Suppose one doesn’t have even sense of gravity & balance as you say. But so what ?? He can lay down on bed and be fed by somebody. But this does not cancel his consciousness – even suppose just consciousness that he exists.

        Not only your brain melts down when pondering these questions. Many brains had melted in the past by these questions. Exactly because of this the ancient Indians came to the conclusion that to answer these questions, brain and its normal thinking activity are not enough. What’s required to answer these questions is to get rid of this brain activity, to completely pause the thinking activity and then just to watch yourself without interferring, to experience the pure consciousness. Not to think about it, not to talk about it, not to describe it. They said it’s absolutely impossible to really grasp what the consciousness is just by thinking because the thinking process is subordinate to the pure consciousness. To achieve all this they developed the Yoga and Meditation.
        • Nov 25 2013: Yubal,

          Note that what they say, what happens to be and the actual congruence between them.
          Just think that they may not want you to think about it because they can't think about it nor want to be subordinate to the pure consciousness. To really grasp what the consciousness is may be accomplished through the appropriate thoughts, ideas feelings emotions actions... which can only be understood by those who understand. Kind of esoteric from a certain viewpoint. What I want to share is that to answer these questions one needs the proper thinking activity and with the proper thinking activity it is more than enough for anyone can get it right when they know the right answer... those who know the right answer don't have to ask what is the right answer... those who don't know the right answer will not understand the answer even when given the right answer.

          You probably know the saying that when the student is ready the master-teacher shows up... and they walk as one sharing the adventure of learning. Before the student was ready there was just the students.
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          Nov 25 2013: Re: " But so what ?? He can lay down on bed and be fed by somebody. But this does not cancel his consciousness – even suppose just consciousness that he exists."

          That person would still have a sense of hunger, perhaps. So, there would still be sensory input to the brain from the person's stomach. And if not, people would call such person "unconscious". So, my point still stands: "wherever there is life, there is some sort of sensory signal processing." And, by the way, we may have sensory input, but be unaware of it like, for example, we do not "feel" a watch on our wrist unless we consciously direct our attention to our wrist. We also may have a lack of sensory input and be unaware of it being sure that we have sensory input where we don't (e.g. blind spot or being sure that the watch is on our wrist when it's not). So, what does consciousness have to do with reality? It perceives things that are not there and fails to perceive things that exist.

          So, signal processing seems to be necessary for life to exist. However, life is not necessary for signal processing to exist. Cell phones these days have visual sensors, audio sensors, touch sensors, RF sensors, gravity sensors, proximity sensors. I'm sure, taste and smell sensors are technically possible. There is a great deal of signal processing going on in cell phones. Cell phones are "aware" of many, many things. Can they be called "conscious"? Can consciousness exist outside a living body?
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          Nov 25 2013: There is much talk about AI these days. AI presumes that it is possible to create consciousness or awareness outside a human being. But then, why can't we think of the universe as conscious? E.g. Earth receives "sensory input" from the Sun and the Moon. It "reacts" to these signals in various ways. Why can't living creatures on Earth be compared to neurons establishing links with each other? White cells in the blood attack and destroy bacteria and viruses, much like police tackles criminals or predators kill the prey.

          We don't usually think of Earth as conscious. And, if we do, we mean it in metaphoric or allegorical sense. But then, when we talk about our own consciousness (a concept which is reduced to nonsense by the reductionist approach widely used in science), don't we also use allegories and metaphors?

          I'm not trying to argue with you or push any particular agenda or opinion of mine. I'm just shining light on some facets of this question that cannot be answered. These discussions can go on and on and on and, at the end, we will just confess our inability to answer them (if we are wise enough to do that like Socrates who, allegedly, said "I know that I know nothing").
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        Nov 25 2013: Dear Arkady,
        It is better to risk your brain to melt down rather than having the safety of getting it frozen! :)
        There are levels of consciousness I think.
        The most developed and complex one is one associated with mind, the self recognizing one that gives us the idea of 'self' as observing and making meaning of the external world through inbound stimuli. The 5 senses that we are so familiar with are important in this context. The sense of orientation controlled by middle ear also fall in this category. The sense of temperature too, I guess.
        When brain stops processing all those signals, we are in what we loosely call the 'unconscious' state. But there are other senses still functional; senses that are internal to the body, senses that control bowel movement, complex decision making of guts to digest food, senses that control heart rate etc. The brain is still functioning and one can say, there is some sort of consciousness that works for preservation of life.
        I think we can hardly take it as a consciousness that has anything to do with processing the reality.
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        Nov 26 2013: Arkady, this is my reply to your last replies ("Re: " But so what ??", " There is much talk about AI these days.").

        This discussion was initiated with the question, "What is reality?"

        When discussing reality as perceived in our minds, there's a pre-assumption that we are talking about conscious minds. Even when we dream in sleep and we experience the dream as reality while sleeping, there must be at least some level of alert consciousness to experience the dream so lively. So it's obvious that whenever we say reality hereby, even in the most senseless person's mind, we mean to a conscious mind who can experience things while being alertly aware of whatever reality it experiences//creates//imagines in his mind. It's not about just life signals or anything else in unconscious mind. It's not just about hunger, but it's about the awareness of being hungry, which I say the senseless person can experience lively in his mind, and so this like other things would be his//her mind’s subjective valid reality.

        You gave an example of a watch on our wrist we do not feel. So think what does this mean reality-wise. It means that as long as one does not feel the watch on his wrist, that watch is NOT a part of his reality. For that period of time the watch does not exist for him//her.

        Cellphones, cameras, computers, AI, are not conscious at all, and in my view they will never be. They do not have minds and so they are incapable of being conscious for experiencing, although they have all the electric currents and the sophisticated components. So we see that reality as we experience is not just about electric stimulus in our nerves. It’s not just about replicating mechanistically the brain processes.

        I had elaborated discussions about this in another TED debate:

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          Nov 26 2013: Yubal,

          I read your comments. Thanks. I don't disagree with you. But all the examples you have simply express a belief that consciousness is something that only live creatures can have. However, you do not explain why.

          I also had a couple comments in that thread. I don't know how to create direct links to them, but you may scroll down below your comment to find them. I also explored this question in my own conversation http://www.ted.com/conversations/14279/is_artificial_intelligence_pos.html but I did not get the answer.

          What is it exactly that allows us to say that we are "conscious" and "intelligent"?

          Watch this http://youtu.be/W1czBcnX1Ww
          When I first saw this video, my reaction was "WTF?" But I was very impressed when I watched the guy trying to kick this machine out of balance and I saw how it behaves on a slippery surface. It does seem to be "aware" of the environment and I doubt that the exact movements of the legs to keep balance on ice is programmed. I think, the time is near when these things will look like living creatures.

          Another example: http://www.ted.com/talks/raffaello_d_andrea_the_astounding_athletic_power_of_quadcopters.html

          Note what Raffaello says about the quads around 12 min of the video:
          "Take this quad, for example. It's trying to stay at a fixed point in space. If I try to move it out of the way, it fights me, and moves back to where it wants to be." I find it very interesting that, perhaps, he does not consider these machines conscious or intelligent, but, nevertheless, he uses language as if they are. The machine is "trying" to do something, "fights" and "wants".

          It seems to me that if AI is created, it will not be on purpose and it will look different from what we expect. It will be real. I asked this chatbot http://www.chatbots.org/chat_bot/captain_kirk/ "what is intelligence?" The chatbot replied "Intelligence is the ability to fake intelligence". There is no difference between "real" and "fake" intelligence.
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          Nov 27 2013: Just watched a fascinating film about "intelligence of plants".

          It turns out, plants react to stimuli - touch, light, electricity, gravity, sound; plants have memory; plants communicate with each other, and have cells resembling and functioning like neurons. Can it be called "intelligence"?
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        Nov 27 2013: Arkady, this is my reply to your last 2 comments: "I read your comments.", "Just watched a fascinating film......"

        I would not call it my belief. It's rather my reason's judgement summing up what we know and see today. Perhaps my judgement will be found to be wrong somewhere in the future. Or a new data will come tomorrow which might change my this judgement. But right now this is my best judgement about machines and their inability to acquire consciousness.

        My explanation is this: Life (consciousness) as we know today began to form about 3 billion years ago. Besides some very marginal exceptions, this life has something very common and that is it's Organic (Carbon) basis. I have no clue, and I doubt if any scientist has, why the life got formed and evolved only on such narrow basis of carbon, etc. Why life did not evolve on the basis of so many other elements ?? My reason tells me that if any consciousness or life could be formed by some alternative way, this alternative way would not wait for 3 billion years to get started. We would see at least some very basic forms of life in that alternative way, whatever it might be.

        Another explanation is that, we find out that life is not merely playing around with electro-chemical processes, or with electric currents, or with various mixtures of chemicals. If this was so, scientists would be able to create life in laboratories from the basic elements 100 years ago. But they are unable to create even a single cell in their laboratories.

        Plants do have consciousness. IMO, any consciousness means some sort of intelligence. Intelligence does not has to be only like humans. Intelligence in my view is anything which allows its carrier to feel its surrounding, make distinctions between the countless parameters constructing its surrounding and to selectively interact with its surrounding for its conscious, sub-conscious or unconscious purposes.
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          Nov 28 2013: I think, "why life is carbon-based?" seems to be a fairly easy question if you consider the properties of carbon. Here is an interesting discussion about it: http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=156166

          The answers seem to be: a) carbon is very abundant; b) carbon can give up as easily as attract up to 4 electrons. Hence it allows a huge amount of combinations to form molecules with other atoms. More difficult question is whether other life forms are, at all, possible. To answer it, we need to consider all possible life forms. The thread I referred to discusses life based on silicon and mentions that if metabolism is to be based on oxidation, SiO2 (sand) is more difficult to expel from organism than CO2 (a gas).

          So, you seem to claim that consciousness is impossible without a living organism. And, since we do not know life forms based on other elements, it's got to be a carbon-based life form.

          But really, is life characterized only by carbon? What if humans create an artificial something able to grow, reproduce, and adapt to the environment. Why can't it be called "life"?

          Consider the swarms of quadcopters in those videos. If there were millions of those things, flying around, wouldn't people just treat them the same way they treat flies, locusts, or birds? And if you encounter "something" which looks like a human, communicates like a human (creates and communicates ideas, understands humor and cultural references, relates to emotions), wouldn't you treat it like a human? Would it matter whether there is blood or electrical circuits under the skin?

          I have a feeling that if something like this ever emerges, it will be unintentional. Emotions are irrational. A programmed emotion is not an emotion. So, we will not be able to call it "artificial intelligence".

          Quite honestly, I myself am not a believer in AI. But I tend to argue with myself to see if I could be wrong.
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        Nov 28 2013: Arkady, you wrote: "So, you seem to claim that consciousness is impossible without a living organism. "

        I am not sure if the above follows from what I had written. I think, in my view, it's vice versa. I think life is impossible without consciousness. What we had seen until today, consciousness gets created only within certain pattern of atomic arrays, which we call Organic and we define it as life. There are theories, and even some deeply thinking philosophers and deeply experiencing mystics who claim that pure consciousness actually does not require any physical mean to exist. I don't want to go into this. I just try to find what CANNOT be rather than what can be. Definitely I can't void the possibility that some new and unexpected discovery or invention will occur and thus we will have totally new external entities or internal insights.

        About people treating something artificial as a human. That's not rare even today. We sometimes get emotionally attached to certain object. In the dreams we treat an absolutely virtual reality as the absolute truth. In Asimov's SF stories we had seen how people treat robots as humans, etc. I tend to agree that if some true intelligence emerge, it might be unintentionally created.

        That's one best thing -- to argue with yourself. That's perhaps the best way to make real mental//intellectual breakthroughs. I do it too. And after reaching some subjectively convincing conclusions, to share them with others and discuss in case of disagreements.
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          Nov 29 2013: I watched this video of Allan Watts http://youtu.be/P78hrdZutsI where he describes two ways of learn about the world. One way is labeled "western" - to divide things into parts and describe how the parts work together step by step. This is how machines and artificial things are put together. The other way is labeled "eastern" - to understand things as a whole and perceive how they "grow" from within, rather than being put together from the parts. I think, this reflects the fundamental difference betweeen living things and artificial machines: machines are put together from parts, step by step, while living things grow from within, all at once. See how he juxtaposes making an artificial flower to the growth of a live flower.

          He also mentions that words, by nature, cannot adequately describe growth of natural things because words are sequential, and in nature things are happening all at once. Inspite of our inability to describe these things in words, it can be said that we "understand" them because, for example, we can coordinate hundreds of muscles in our body without even knowing how many we have.

          This is a paradoxical statement, because in his lecture, Watts does exactly that - tries to divide concepts into parts ("western" - "eastern") and put them into words.

          Perhaps, this is the reason we have difficulty telling whether consciousness can exist without life or life without consciousness. Perhaps, they constitute a whole. Without thinking too deep, it seems fairly clear that consciousness is inseparable from life and we don't think of machines as conscious. But when I try to define things - what is consciousness? what is life? what is the difference between a living thing and a machine? That's when things get awfully confusing and complicated.

          Who doesn't understand what reality is? Yet, try to define it - and it just falls apart, turns into utter nonsense.
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    Nov 3 2013: Reality is commonly understood by "what exists" or the cosmos more specifically... (or you could check wikipedia for an elaborate introduction).
    Most evidence points that there is only one reality, and that each human (and many living beings) has an image of it -perceived through our senses-. A representation of our direct reality (let's say earth). We (humanity) have discovered much more about reality than we can directly perceive, and our best descriptions come from scientific inquiry.

    If you are not receiving sensory input, you start hallucinating (or dreaming during your sleep).

    If you wouldn't have any senses, you would not survive. Life needs external information to anticipate danger in order to avoid it (think this in evolutionary perspective, or in primitive forms in 'life games').

    Reality is not created, or at least, not as far as we know. There seems no need to assume a creator. We are unsure what happened around what we call 'the big bang'.
    For further understanding of reality on a particle level: check physics. For more about our planet: check all sciences (including sociology and psychology).

    I think you should not mix reality with what we humans believe reality is (our mental representation). Thinking that we only have a representation (of reality) implies reality is relative is wrong. Precisely because there is a reality, we can have an (inaccurate) perception of it.

    [edit: this talk is somewhat apt: http://www.ted.com/talks/devdutt_pattanaik.html]
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      Nov 3 2013: Morals, ...any emotion, creative ideas, freedom, liberty, justice, slavery...

      Anything people would die for is not reality?

      Chris, you and I live in two different realities. You create yours and I create mine as far as you and I know it..

      Agree to disagree. :)
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        Nov 3 2013: This is an interesting point, though I wouldn't agree absolutely with your 'Anything people would die for' commect. The first thing people would die for (or without) is food, water, air - all elements of physical reality.

        But certainly, there are many things that are important to us - emotion, thoughts, music, religion to name just a few - that are not part of physical reality. Yet it feels very uncomfortable to therefore state that they are not real.
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        Nov 3 2013: all you mention is clearly part of our reality... ( I wonder how you infer that I would claim the opposite)

        An active brain is capable of producing those... like electricity and a television can produce moving images (well, a set of images that seem to move). You label certain patterns as those emotions... and the experience of the living creature is really felt and value attached to it.

        Liberty, justice, slavery,... exists in a social context, where you label patterns of human behavior.

        Your perception of reality is clearly different than my perception of it. Although we are able to communicate on a shared medium which seems to exist for both of us. I assume this is a part of reality that is not different from you or me or an elephant in the Savannah.

        Your perception of planet earth is different from mine, but I am quite confident it is round and that we have oceans and continents and people living on it and dividing with borders they agree upon (more or less) and call it a country. I am quite confident that an aspirin works as I learned but for some it is more harmful than beneficial and the reasons for that are also the same for any observer.
        Assuming different realities would imply all those things could be different for any observer... I have not met people who are unaffected by earth's gravity at sea level, or can remain without oxygen for more than 1000 hours and turn themselves into frogs afterwards.

        The assumption that there are more realities is a mere play of words or semantics.
    • Nov 3 2013: Just like 'there seems no need to assume a creator', I consider no need to reject the existence of a creator. In my book whatever happens to be the case be what happens to be the case.

      The burden of proof... will talk about it latter have to go this instant

      Precisely because there is a reality, we can have an (accurate) perception of it. (or an erroneous one :-)
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        Nov 3 2013: True, you don't need to reject that assumption, though you would violate Occam's razor and prefer a theory that has more redundancy. I would only assume extra parameters in a model if it is needed.

        we can talk about the burden of proof, but only if you assign meaningful aspects of your assumption that are test-able. (If I would add unicorns to the equation that don't influence the remainder of reality, and keep that as my world-view, it's still consistent, though I added an unneeded assumption)
        • Nov 3 2013: Christophere

          Please keep in mind that this is intended as an objective intellectual interchange, putting personal feeling a bit aside and seeking a more enriching understandings on all parts an we jointly seek to explore the topic.

          Considering that you are introducing the assumption of what is test-able, and shifting to hypothesis and theory rather than sticking to knowing simple facts based on knowing the facts... it seems quite evident to me why you mention Occam's razor violations :-) . Yes 'the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected'. That being the case when one knows what be, it needn't require hypothesis nor be test-able nor need to be proven, for one knows what be. To use a rather simplistic example a murderer becomes a murderer when they perform the act not on the grounds of getting caught and some authority declaring them guilty or innocent or being mercifully forgiven.

          "a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, esp. one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained" becomes obsolete when an individual knows something directly and does not need the explanations of something.

          Note that 'we can talk about the burden of proof' if we choose to talk about such matters... adding the assumption that it must be test-able excludes that which be and which isn't test-able... non the less it be and remains being. To link it back into the context of this conversation it would be akin to seeking to talk only of the reality which can be sensed and exuding the reality which can't be sensed which be and which isn't sensible... non the less it be reality and remains being real.

          BTW some moles require the extra assumptions and extra parameters to model reality... and when done correctly add noting nor take away anything relevant to the reality modeled never the less to keep things simple its best to seek to keep models simple...
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        Nov 3 2013: Esteban,

        I understand we are on an intellectual interchange, so I don't take difference in opinion as an offence.

        Your example of a murderer is a definition... 'someone who murders' is 'a murderer'... So the to 'test' if someone is a murderer is to find proof that he/she did murder someone. I don't need to accept that the person is a murderer until I have the evidence. So assuming that one is a murderer is not even a redundant assumption, it might even be a false assumption.

        I can go with the idea that a person doesn't "need" an explanation, but if he wants to convince others of his/her beliefs he sure needs to have one (unless he wants to convince people who take a person's conviction as true, which is something a kid does naturally from a parent for example).

        There might exist things that are un-testable, but those things might as well not exist.
        Important note: I mean test-able in principle (as there are things that are hard to test, but are not un-testable in principle while it might take eons to do in practice): Something that cannot affect us (like an invisible/intangible gnome that doesn't even affect the molecules, radiation or neutrino's in our universe in any direct or indirect way) can as well be said to be non-existent for all practical matters. People are free to believe in it. There is no possible (test-able in principle) way to prove it. I, however will consider it among the fairy-tales and fantasy of our imagination.

        The expression "it does not matter" comes to mind. So on intellectual level, I cannot exclude such gnomes, but they don't (affect any form of) matter.

        I don't get your 'mole' argument... do you mean the blind moles that have a queen and are one of the strangest mammals on earth? I don't get how they would need extra assumptions when it comes to evolution theory.
        • Nov 3 2013: Glad to see that we agree on differences in opinions being differences in opinion and not insulting offenses :-)... its been an experience that some do find offensive when others points out the truth especially when it shows the veracity (or lack of it) in what they said... the righteous welcome the truth even when it exposes an error related to them for they see such occurrence as an invitation to correct what needs correcting.

          The subtle point I was seeking to make with the example of a murderer was: that the murderer be a murderer given the murderer be a murderer and finding the proof (or not being able to prove ) that the murderer be a murderer does not change the fact of them being what they are. Of course if one assumes someone is a murderer when in fact they aren't one belongs to a different topic. Evidently to me, 'you' does not need to accept that the murderer is a murderer even when 'you' has the evidence.

          The notion of one wanting to convince others of certain true beliefs/facts can presents quite a challenge especially when others 'refuse to be convinced' because of certain beliers/'facts' they hold to be true. Its also possible that this results in shifting the burden of proof from 'one' to 'the other' while also introducing additional assumptions. We could get into dialoguing why this may take place and instances of where this takes place if need be... In principle everything is test-able, in practice somethings are practically impossible to test especially for some of us and still what exists exists. Take for example the claim "There is no possible (test-able in principle) way to prove it )". Do we know for a fact that true? BTW stories are one of those things that is something that cannot affect us which does affect us.

          I had to go look for the 'mole' argument ... I realized it should had been the 'model' argument... no wonder that 'mole' made little sense to you... thanks for providing interesting notions related to the moles
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      Nov 3 2013: I would agree with Chrisophe on this one. It is important to separate external reality from our percention of it. There most definitely is an 'absolute' physical universe that is independent of human existence or our perception of it (or that of any other animal on planet Earth) since it existed long before life did. This reality just trundles along, doing its thing, oblivious to the fact that we may or may not be watching.

      Along come animals with sense organs designed to help them find their way in this physical reality by providing them with a selection of relevant information about their surroundings. On the basis of this information they construct an internal representation of external reality. Importanly, this is a representation, not the same thing. It's like a photo of a tree not being the same thing as the tree.

      Somewhere down the line, humans popped up with basically the same functions, but the additional capacity to ponder this situation and get confused by it. When you look at your hand, you are not seeing the physical reality of your hand. You are seeing the picture that your brain has constructed on the basis of the photons that have reflected off you hand into your eye and stimulated light-sensitive cells there to fire off impulses into your brain. The two are connected by of a completely different nature.

      The fact that it is difficult to perceive our perceptions in this way is entirely understandable. If we were to perceive it as no more than a subjective sketch, we would be less effective in matching our behaviour with events taking place around us. Little surprise, then, that evolution has built into our minds the impression that our representation IS reality.
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      Nov 4 2013: There is the kind of reality we use as a model to make sense of our surroundings. But at the same time we also know that this "reality" is a pretty faulty and incomplete representation of what really is.
      Nevertheless, for all practical purpose it works because it is a model we all share.
      However there is much more to reality than the working model we use on a daily basis.
      In physics the currently most accepted theory is M theory which has it its core the idea that there is no single history to the universe but that the universe has all possible histories and our observations right now influence its history. What does something like that mean to the concept of reality ?
      • Nov 5 2013: Yeap right now one each and can change the future, the present, the past... so what will each choose to cultivate?
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        Nov 5 2013: I don't think your claim about the M-theory is right... but I might be mistaken (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-theory) Maybe you could provide me with some links to more information?
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        Nov 6 2013: @ Harald. I read 'The Grand Design' and it's an interesting read. But what I got from it about M-theory is slightly different from what you got. In simple words, M-theory is like the story of five blind men and the elephant. When reality is as vast as anyone can think of and any given theory can explain only a part of it and starts to conflict with another theory that otherwise explains another part of it nicely, the most intelligent choice seems to be making a map of theories to try to have a complete understanding of reality. It is essential in this approach to disregard the fundamental incongruities between major theories. It's like two spouses deciding to make a compromise in order to run a family.
        It seems therefore that a general form of reality is disjointed at this moment. I know we love to believe it is complete but until we have a solid evidence to that, assuming a continuous all conforming reality is a mere wish.
        • Nov 6 2013: the fundamental incongruities between the stances require adequate resolution... which may involve distinguishing and separating functional properties from systemic properties and effects. to but it bluntly when someone who is wrong tells me I am wrong I thank them, when they tell me I am right, I wonder if its because they realize that I am right or because I happen to be wrong
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          Nov 6 2013: Pabrita, I don't think I got into any explanation about M-theory and yes, I agree with what you state here.
          M theory is string theory taken a step further. Stephen Hawking actually explained it quite nicely with his analogy to multiple, overlapping maps.
          If true, it would change our concept of reality completely. Who can easily wrap his mind around the existence of 11 dimensions or branes ?
          Personally I'm a bit skeptical whether M-theory will actually gather steam. The problem I see so far is that there is no way to measure or observe the constructs the theory is calling for and more importantly, it lacks predictions that, if coming through, would be evidence for the correctness of the theory.
          So far, everything is just a lot of mathematical constructs.
        • Nov 6 2013: My familiarity with M theory and string theory is quite limited... what I stated stems from a model I created to exemplify and make a point in a different dialogue... I used Cartesian an polar coordinate systems and a simple 'constant' function to demonstrate how a horizontal line and a circle represented the same thing... and how these where a particular case of a spiral and an inclined line... of course depending on the coordinate system a circle was a simple constant function or a quadratic equation... I also developed and extended the dualistic metaphor that uses a map and territory into a triad metaphor that links to other models I have created. In a way its like moving from a dualistic hot-cold subjective notion into an standard objective scalar notion involving temperature. Its easy to move from knowing the temperature to declare if its hot or cold but the other way is a bit more complicated and less accurate...
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    Nov 2 2013: From reading the comments so far, I agree with the general sentiment that there is an "absolute reality", and then there are our own very varied perceptions of that reality. The question "What is Reality" addresses both of these levels.

    Those with one or two sensory deprivations can compensate amazingly, but that just gives them a perception of reality "enhanced" (or skewed) in a particular way as it were by being deaf, blind, or whatever.
    People who've experienced "isolation tanks" where the opportunity for sensing is deliberately diminished, tend to report the ability to perceive reality through some other latent sensing mechanism which is usually not noticed because of the day-to-day dominance of the 5 physical senses (6th sense, 7th sense?). The same can be said for meditation, or drugs, which give the experience of perceiving reality from a different angle, or level.

    All of which points to the fact that there are many ways in which we try and grasp and build a picture in our minds of that "ultimate reality". Maybe it's beyond words, despite the best attempts of mystics and poets down through the ages.

    I would ask though, what might be the "qualities" of that ultimate reality?
    With some idea of "qualities" in mind, we have some kind of guidance whereby our individual perceptions of that ultimate reality can be 'corrected' towards a more unifying global perception. Hopefully this might contribute to less war, and more co-operation.
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      Nov 2 2013: Hi Joshua, yes people can compensate with other senses if the are missing one.
      Did you ever see this blind guy who makes kind of snapping sounds and orients himself by the reflection that comes back from the objects surrounding him ?
      What are the qualities of this ultimate reality ? I don't know, but that's what I like to know.
      I like to use an analogy. Think about whirls in a river. You can easily see them, so in some sense they are real, yet they are nothing else but the rest of the river of which they are a part. Could it be that the whirls are our subjective reality while the river is the underlying "absolute" reality ?
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        Nov 2 2013: Hi Harald,
        I think your metaphor of the still deep water as ultimate reality, and the surface activity on the water as our perception of it, is a good one. It also pictures a "continuum" from the surface, with the promise of the ability to reach reach deeper and deeper in a progressive manner. The "progressive" element to me is realistic - I'm not a believer in instant enlightenment.

        The qualities of this ultimate reality?
        The first quality that springs to mind is that it is eternal, or beyond time.
        A second quality might be that it is forever growing, developing, expanding, moving, changing - and perhaps this is reflected in the human desire to grow and reach for a higher potential.
        A third quality (sort of expected maybe) is Love, where I'm defining love as "an unconditional acceptance of what truly is now". Bit tricky to explain this one, but we can only grow and move on from a unconditional acceptance of where we are now; ie: growth is organic. But of course knowing and being aware of what truly IS in any one moment or situation is not always easy because of our limited perception of what "now is". This was brought home to me with a recent illness; I got the sense that only when I fully accepted the situation (instead of moaning about being incapacitated) only then could my body recover. Ultimate Reality is always unconditionally accepting itself and so that is why (it's a theory) it grows and develops optimally.
        A fourth quality might be benevolence, or beneficence. ie: ultimate reality has the quality of being essentially "good", rather than evil (it's not out to "get us"; but to help us grow). To me this implies also we are essentially innocent not guilty, essentially good not bad, and essentially co-operative, not combative.
        • Nov 3 2013: A conscious choice pro wellbeing is how I prefer to define love... it recognizes what truly is now and chooses to manifest the better possibilities.... sometimes in the past when seeking to define what's 'good' I gotten into 'conflicts' with others mostly because they see conflicts as good :-) what helped me sort out the situation consists of using a sustainable-desirable-congruen with life filter... it gives each a taste of their medicine while giving each the same thing... I liked most of what you said...
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          Nov 4 2013: Hi Joshua, I think you go to far into the spiritual realm here.
          As to eternal. Probably, at least that would be the most intuitive answer because otherwise we would have to ask when reality began and if we ask this question, something must already have existed that gave birth to reality unless we accept creation ex nihilo which is kind of difficult to imagine.
          Nevertheless, quantum physics clearly shows us that intuition in certain realms of reality just breaks down. So we have to be careful with jumping on something just because it's intuitive.
          As to points 2-4, here you lost me. That's too metaphysical from my point of view.
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        Nov 5 2013: Hi Harald, I guess that if the question of the nature of ultimate reality is to be addressed at all, then it's likely to be something beyond what we can currently grasp with our limited perceiving minds. And when we go beyond our perception, then we are into the realm of meta-physics (though of course one day it might be "just physics" - or perhaps we could optimistically call it "future physics").
        Did you have in mind yourself any qualities of ultimate reality?
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          Nov 5 2013: I agree with you Joshua, although I wouldn't call it meta physics. However, physics is getting in a realm where proof becomes increasingly difficult.
          If I had any understanding of the ultimate reality I probably would already have won a Nobel price...lol
          I know as little about the ultimate reality as a Goldfish knows about climbing a mountain.
          The only glimpses we get from quantum physics are that most likely it's very different from the reality we take as a given.
    • Nov 2 2013: Nicely put... maybe the underlying idea in what you stated involves what do we listen to ...now consider that the qualities of the ultimate reality are sustainable-desirable-congruent with the ways of life. Something interesting about 'words we use' is that they do not actually contain the meanings we use, the words absolute meaning is relative and set once and for all when used, the thing is the author uses it when composing, then each individual reader uses it; every reading, every conception and reconception and think of it. It can even be a bit more complicated with the author creating the play - directing the play actors to perform a certain scene - the audience experiencing the actors enactment of the play under the influence of what they know --- the critics stories they hold, expectations, dreams, prejudices etc.

      usesthough we often think that they do and for all
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        Nov 3 2013: Hello Esteban,
        Thanks for mentioning the word "sustainable"; I would definitely add this to my list of "qualities" of ultimate reality. The notions of "congruent" and "desirable" are also useful words, and which I think fit with the idea that ultimate reality has the quality of beneficence; congruent with life, and making life desirable.
        To me, life is the experience of life, and I have considerable control over how I experience things, even if they don't go as I wanted. In this manner, perhaps, we can attune ourselves bit by bit, more and more, to the qualities of ultimate reality.
        I'm currently reading "The Secret Life of Plants" (by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird) published way back in 1970, and it is amazing how much more is happening on our planet than we first perceive.
        • Nov 3 2013: Thanks for mentioning : I have considerable control over how I experience things.

          Indeed each one has considerable options over how to experience things, regardless of the hand dealt to experience... each has considerable control over how one (and even others) experience reality and even of the arrangements that exist and persist in reality. The stories and concepts we give life to can make a difference as to what happens with the play of life.

          As you stated--- "... perhaps, we can attune ourselves bit by bit, more and more, to the qualities of ultimate reality" while cultivating it as each does what each ought to do.

          Its indeed amazing the relationships, processes, symbioses taking place on multiple levels especially when we look at everything happening. Aromas to attract and to repeal, interchanges to help propagate. There is a wild hot pepper that requires to pass through the digestive system of a bird to germinate. Thats right for the plant to grow it needs a bird to eat its fruit and drop it's seeds elsewhere. I read how some seeds are poisonous to eat thus promoting animals to eat the fruit and drop the seeds. Corn requires human cultivators to flourish. Many plants feed the insects who help them to reproduce. On a grater scale we breathe in what plants breathe out and plants breathe in what we breathe out creating a sustainable system where more plants need more beings and more beings need more plants. I also read how plants attract/produce rain, and paved roads repeal it. Something to do with evaporation and emitted heat. Plants help to keep a cooler surface and produce greater evaporation. As you mentioned "it is amazing how much more is happening on our planet than we first perceive".
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    Nov 30 2013: Dear All, This is the first debate I've ever been in formally. I am not of the opinion that I can debate reality very well. Arguing something will not bring me the sense of reality I desire. Unity and trying to connect will. I entered the debate with a good sense of what is real and what is not in my view. I have found a plan that appears to work for me on all levels from the macro to the micro and is all encompassing. I sign off with that sense a bit fuller. I surrender my final summary below.


    I bless all of you on your journey.
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      Dec 1 2013: Thanks for your kind thought, larry.

      What is reality? "One & Only: Love & Mercy ".
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      Dec 1 2013: Is pain real?

      "I hurt myself today,
      To see if I'd still feel.
      I focus on the pain,
      The only thing that's real."
      -- NIN

      Is there love and mercy without pain?
      • Dec 1 2013: To answer the last question yes!
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          Dec 1 2013: Is love possible without sacrifice and sacrifice without pain (or, at least, an inconvenience to ourselves)?
      • Dec 1 2013: Arkady,

        Yes love is possible with love and joy and understanding and peace and truth...

        Those who seek sacrifices know love by the sacrifices made to love rather than by just knowing love.

        Those who know love don't seek sacrifices nor need to test it...
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          Dec 1 2013: Fair enough. Still, I think that if I am not willing to suffer, at least, an inconvenience, for the person I love, it's not love. Requiring to suffer inconveniences and make sacrifices in return is not love either. If love were all about joy and peace and butterflies in the stomach, I would be long divorced by now. Love with joy and understanding and peace is easy. Try love without those. I think, that's when you know if it's real or not.
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          Dec 1 2013: I agree with Esteban in that we do not have to seek sacrifices to test love. That does not mean there will be no sacrifices, inconveniences and challenges, which seems different than actually "seeking" the challenges.

          I agree with you as well Arkady, because you say..."...if I am not willing to suffer...an inconvenience, for the person I love, it's not love" AND "requiring to suffer...and make sacrifices in return is not love either"

          As multi-sensory, multi-dimensional, thinking, feeling humans, I suggest that we can experience joy, understanding and peace at the same time that we may face challenges. We do not need to give up the joy, understanding and peace in the face of challenge. In my perception, unconditional love also embraces acceptance, and good communication, which sometimes helps support us through challenges. Another idea is to love the challenge, because it provides an opportunity to learn and grow as individuals, and/or beyond:>)
      • Dec 1 2013: Arkady,

        Indeed when we love we will do all sort of stuff for the wellbeing of people we love, we may even give our lives for them (and we do give our lives to them in every day actions). What I sought to distinguish in my comment was how love has little to do with sacrifice. I think that many a times individuals use emotional blackmail to get their way. For some strange reason 'the suffering' want others to suffer for them and thats how they know others love them because of the suffering... that's all they know ! True love works a bit different, one wants others to love because one love them... it would be nice if they corresponded the gift of love. Note that conditional love, I love you because you love me ( I will love you if you do this for me) isn't true love its more like a business deal.

        As Colleen pointed out, Love 'The challenges' ... though keep in mind that if there are no challenges one can still love the person for all the divine things they happen to do/think/feel/be
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          Dec 1 2013: I guess, 1 Corinthians 13 says it all.
          Most of morality turns into hypocricy when we apply it to others instead of ourselves.
          "An egoist is a person who loves himself more than he loves me."
      • Dec 1 2013: Morality works best when one applies to oneself and others (and in that order)..

        Love truth wisdom all are united always
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    Nov 27 2013: Turn off the TV and Travel :)
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      Nov 27 2013: A step into the right direction ;-)
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      Nov 28 2013: No matter how far you believe you may travel, No one is able to travel outside his/her mind.

      Wish you to safely stay in it.
      • Nov 28 2013: Vera

        I wonder about the mindless are they still within their mind?
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          Nov 28 2013: Hello Esteban. One would not know madness if it woud not be developed within one's mind. We just judge other's mad conditions based on our ability to perceive. We often do not even understand these conditions and easily call others "mad" because we trust our conventions - these conventions can be more mad than "madness" we judge.

          We are all "mad" to some degree in someone else's eyes. Cheers.
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          Nov 28 2013: Hi Esteban,
          I don't know if helps but there was a study published in 2011 in Frontiers in Human Neurosciences, Tristan Bekinschtein which found that people in vegetative coma states (i.e. absence of awareness of self or environment, but where autonomic functions such as respiration are preserved) where patients showed signs of brain activity in response to linguistic stimuli. Patients still had consciousness, despite not having the means to express it :)
      • Nov 28 2013: Well if the 'mad' call me sane I would madly worry though if they call me mad well I realize that its just them projecting unto me their condition :-)

        WE are all 'mad' to some degree just as we are sane to some degree...
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    Nov 26 2013: Thank-you Larry and Pabitra for your kind comments below, I appreciate it.

    Estaban and Harold, I think you are right in regards to the existence of multiple realities. I made the faulty assumption that reality is the state of things that actually ‘physically’ exist. Reality is the totality of things and this includes both the physical and non-physical. Esteban I like your comment, “While we only experience reality through what we think, this map we use could accurately correspond to the reality itself.”

    Harald I am in agreement with you with your statement, “our universe will still be here regardless of us being around to observe it or not. Best proof for that is probably that the universe is much older than we are. So, obviously it was around long before we showed up to observe it.” It is arrogant for me or for humans to believe that one particular state of space time (i.e. the occurrence of consciousness during the big bang) was chosen purely so it could inhabit material bodies simply so we could exist. Such narcissistic mentality wouldn’t of formed the great theory of evolution or disprove that the earth is not the center of the universe.

    Harald I also do follow your statement about the existence of Absolute, Subjective and Inner realities. I also wanted to add that there may be the possible existence of more realities than the 3. Brian Greene’s system classification of the Landscape Multiverse describes that the laws of physics in these universes are fundamentally different than the universe we inhabit. Subjective and Objective reality is established by Newtonian and Quantum laws however, these laws may not apply in these universes therefore different and multiple realities maybe formed.

    • Nov 26 2013: Christine,

      Your quote of Harald induced me to thing that maybe our selves will still be regardless of this universe existing ... and as I write this words I wonder if it is OUR universe... especially when considering that it was here before our arrival and will be here after our departure. As you sort of stated It is arrogant to think that its is ours. Now in regards to believe"... that one particular state of space time (i.e. the occurrence of consciousness during the big bang) was chosen purely so it could inhabit material bodies simply so we could exist) need not lead to an arrogant position it could also lead to a humbling one. Just imagine the care someone took to ensure that we could exists and can continue to exists. I think we ought to be grateful an actually appreciate it. Holding that we are a fluke that just happened by chance hardly seem justifiable... Holding that that coincidence just happened as a change event also seems unjustifiable. Still some like to believe that things just happen. That reminds me of something I used to say when a child I know would say stuff like It broke. It fell. I would ask them did it brake all by itself or did you have something to do with that happening. Well it was a bit more direct: Did it break or did you break it? The lesson there was the notion that there is usually a cause and effect please don't come telling me it just happened all by itself.
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        Nov 26 2013: Esteban, you are committing a logical fallacy because you assume that humans couldn't have been appeared by chance.
        The didn't as I mentioned in another post.
        What was a product of chance was that our planet had the proper composition and proper distance from the sun, that eventually allowed the formation (after much trail and error) of relatively simple self replicating molecules. Once those molecules existed, evolution by mutation and natural selection lead to all life on earth including us.
        • Nov 27 2013: Harald,

          The logical fallacy involves you apparently not considering that I consider 'both' cases as possible and choose one of them over the other ( and for some reason (or a lot or reasons) that evidently are quite unknown to you).

          Yea I know you believe we evolved thanks to some chance conditions existing. You insisting that being the case does not make it be the case. Whatever the case that's the case...
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        Nov 27 2013: "The logical fallacy involves you apparently not considering..."
        This is not a logical fallacy but based on evidence. There is no evidence that supports that humans came out of thin air into existence. You can consider anything, even that humans were created by Zeus spitting on the ground. Whether these considerations make any sense is a different question entirely.
        As to my belief, it is supported by vast evidence (e.g. fossil record, genetic material we share to varying degrees with all living beings). On the other hand, believing that humans came into existence out of nothing is not supported by anything. So why should I consider such an idea ?
        It always boils down to the same. You have a terribly hard time accepting the scientific method.
        It's like one of my old friends here, Peter, who is totally convinced that the earth is not older than 6000 years.
        So what can there be discussed ?
        • Nov 27 2013: Harald,

          you sated "Esteban, you are committing a logical fallacy because you assume that humans couldn't have been appeared by chance".

          I responded : "The logical fallacy involves you apparently not considering that I consider 'both' cases as possible"

          Bluntly put it is false that I assumed what you claimed I assumed.

          Your are projecting unto me what belongs to you "It always boils down to the same. You have a terribly hard time accepting the scientific method." has certain issues you seem to not want to recognize...
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      Nov 26 2013: Hello Christine,
      I read several of Brian Greene's books. Very interesting stuff, although tough to visualize for example the additional curled up dimensions or branes he is talking about.
      According to string theory (and now m-theory) our universe is just one of many (based on Richard Feynman's "sum of all histories") which has a particular set of rules (charges, masses of the universe's building blocks). However, other universes might have completely different sets of rules.
      What is interesting is the fact that our universe is not boring and even created life because tiny irregularities in its structure after the big bang that allowed stuff to gravitate towards each other which eventually led to galaxies and the universe we know. If the stuff after the big bang would have been completely homogenous, a universe as we know it would have never developed.
      So to refine the concept of absolute reality one would actually have to add that whatever it is, it's specific to our universe. Other universes (if they exist) probably have very different absolute realities.
      • Nov 27 2013: Absolute reality would actually have to include the other specific universes and a bit more... its actually a rather big 'house'.... would take a couple of forevers to see it all... and that is good...
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        Nov 27 2013: Thank-you Harald, for your very sound explanation and clarification of absolute realities, as well as, further illumination :)
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    Nov 26 2013: In this intriguing conversation I'd like to see more clarity - what Kind of reality one is talking about? Is this "Inner" or "Outer" existence?.. or presumably both?

    I wish I had been told, before I read these agreements, whether one believes in life as a non-intuitive, deprived of freedom of Will, like "automata", (invented in the Middle Ages), or trusts that each form of life is able to create/govern its INTERNAL REALITY through unique sensations/perceptions.
    It would be great if one clarifies: Is Objective reality possible to somehow be "reflected" in our minds (for instance based on visible to corporeal eye traces of quantum)? or it is absolutely impossible for our physical sense-perceptions? Why?

    In any case I personally think that we are missing crucial knowledge about our very process of perceiving (on both stages - intuitive and conscious) that tremendously effects our experience of all sorts. Hopefully, sooner or later we might face super changes in our vision of realities and our Selves, but only after the still-unborn psychology of subconscious/intuitive perceptions, would be established and developed based on very close collaboration with sciences, epistemology, and general philosophy.
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      Nov 26 2013: We are talking about at least 2 realities but you can make it even 3.
      1) the absolute reality which are the fundamental laws that govern the universe regardless whether or not we are here to observe them
      2) the subjective reality. This is our "agreement" as a species to see thing generally in the same way. When we see a car, we all agree it's a car, a tree is a tree etc.
      This one you could still split into a 3. reality which is what you call the inner reality. For example you smell a certain fragrance and your reality is that it is awesome why another person's reality might be that it is awful.

      As to free will, that's probably worth a completely separate conversation. My view is that it depends what you consider as free will.
      If free will is what you eat for lunch, how you dress, what movie you watch, then yes, there is free will because apparently we all make countless decisions between choices all the time.
      However, if you drill deeper then we have to conclude that we all are governed by the laws of nature whatever they might be.
      So, although you might want to levitate, gravity tells you no and pulls you down (unless you use a device compensating for gravity). If you say you want to freeze your age at 25, again, chemical processes in your body will prohibit you from doing so. SO, in these instances, there obviously is no free will regardless of how hard you try.
      Objective reality is what governs everything, whether we are aware of it or not.
      I don't think it's inherently impossible to experience objective reality but, let's assume that quantum mechanics is part of this objective reality, then everything going on in that realm is so counter to our daily life experience that we can't even put it in words.
      Our senses are what they are. We can enhance them to a certain degree with instruments which in return is limited by the technology available to us.
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        Nov 26 2013: Or we could fragment reality much more if we continue the process of division in which case I will have out smarted myself. I will see fragmented reality. We have that currently it's nothing but the same. How will that help? Is it possible to eliminate the will in this debate? It's driving us. No will no drive. Somebody help! Of the three or more realities who will I serve?
        • Nov 26 2013: Larry,

          Rather than eliminate the will focus it on attaining what ought to be attained.
          To put it simply: no its impossible to eliminate the will...

          Though I wonder if it is driving us or are we drive it... maybe its a tango... a dance between body-mind-spirit where each serves the other and is served by the others... to do what ought to be done and bring about the best possibility into being
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          Nov 26 2013: Larry, thing I see it, they are not different in the sense of independent from each other but contained in each other.
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      Nov 26 2013: Esteban, The will is what we think we want, simply put that's my willful nature. Call it desire if you like. The what ought be attained is what you want. Will everyone agree to that. Remember there are the agendas of others. That can start a war "THE WAR OF THE WANTS". What is your will, what do you want?
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    • Nov 25 2013: I think that this comment carefully mistakes reality with our perceptions and interpretations of such reality.
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        • Nov 26 2013: Jason

          The finger points at the moon ( or that big rock some refer to as the moon)
          There is physical moon - Objective reality - that rock in space
          there is the physical finger - objective reality -
          Some keep looking at the finger rather than what it points to.
          Similarly some look at the words rather than what they point to.
          Then there are the ideas/feeling/experiences that point to something...
          Or the artist's work that some can see reflects something of the artists...

          There are some maps that do reflect what the territory is like... well for someone who can read maps.
          To some it may just be rice-paper with yummy drawings on it...
        • Nov 26 2013: But if an object did not exist independently of how any of us perceived it, then there would be no possibility for confirmation. Since we can confirm, we know they reality is independent of our perceptions. Also, at the very basics, there's no other way in which things would make ensue except if reality is independent on our perceptions and interpretations. So, no, reality exists whether we perceive it or not. That it only becomes "real" to you when you perceive it, is an equivocation that does not help in understanding reality.

          Again, you mistake our interpretations with the reality these interpretations try and understand. Maybe we always get it wrong (do we? if so how can we survive? could it be that getting it wrong or right is a false dichotomy and this is rather a matter of depth?), but reality keeps being independent on perceptions of it. Otherwise there would be no corrections, no way of progressing, etc. Clearly there's a distinction between reality and interpretations. Clearly our senses must be informing us about some aspects of this reality even if a limited one. Clearly the added layer of interpretation must get something right, or else how could we survive?
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      Nov 25 2013: Hi Jason,
      I seem to have some things false or untrue stored in memory. My memory is corrupted with fantasy. What do I do now? Is my realty, real if its filter through memory? Like a math error and I continue on and on. Is everything in your memory true? How about perception, how about mind?
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          Nov 25 2013: I'm sorry I thought I was in reality therapy.
        • Nov 26 2013: Jason,

          Confusing a prevalent trait as being normal part of human nature can be a slippery slope... which may have built in defense mechanism for its survival ... still a normal human wouldn't incorporate such trait and would seek to change it...
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      • Nov 26 2013: Larry,

        Just move to a higher level of abstraction and incorporate multiple ways to validate you got the right answer... In other words work with variables, ensure via multiple ways that the result is actually valid... plug in the particular numbers of the case at hand... Oh and ask someone to take a look and make sure their errors don't become your errors while fixing the errors they saw...
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          Nov 26 2013: Esteban my friend, thank you for bringing clarity to the mind where it was not present. You're forever helpful and loved.
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      Nov 25 2013: Jason, what you say is just one aspect of reality. It's our subjective reality. Nevertheless, we could completely disappear form the face of earth and some reality, although not observed or contemplated upon, will still exist.
      This is what we referred to as the absolute reality throughout this conversation.
      Although we live in our subjective reality we also have to obey absolute reality with its laws of nature (e.g. gravity)
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          Nov 25 2013: Jason, that's what most of us agree. The reality we live and take for "real" is subjective.
          Nevertheless this subjective reality has to arise from something or is embedded in something which is absolute reality.
          But I disagree that you have to experience something to make it real. To be it real for YOU, you have to experience it, but again that's only the subjective reality.
          The underlying laws of nature (and the might be different form those we assume currently) do not depend on our experience. They are what they are regardless of our existence. The universe does not cease to exist the moment we are gone.
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          Nov 26 2013: Conflict, chaos and confusion rise as I see two worlds. The one that is and the one that isn't.
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          Nov 26 2013: gravity seems to be an inherent feature of our universe. There is no indication that it is something made up by our mind. In addition, gravity will continue to exist regardless of us being here.
          Therefore we can say gravity is real. I don't see where you put the difference between something being real and something exists. It seems to be the same.
          If something objectively exists then it obviously must be real;
          As to your Hawaii example: You haven't been there but you found lots of evidence supporting the claim that it is real. It could still be an elaborate hoax, but it's not very likely in the light of all the evidence.
          Even if you go to Hawaii, can you actually be sure that it is real or perhaps it's just an illusion ?
          As to natural laws. So far they are corroborated and coincide very well not only with our subjective reality but they are also required to make the universe exist at all.
          This doesn't mean that there can't be even deeper laws of nature that we don't know yet.
          What is real is real regardless of your experience.
          If there is some planet out there that is made of diamonds, you don't even know of doesn't change the fact that the planet is real. It's just not real for you, because you are not aware of its existence.
          No, other people agreeing with me is no proof of anything neither is people disagreeing with me.
        • Nov 26 2013: Jason,

          You are projection your notions and beliefs based on your notions and beliefs. Consider the tree falling in the forest making a sound if there is no one to hear it. In reality we would be unable to determine if it does make a sound or not. There isn't a way to test it because the moment you put a sensor there you have something to hear it... Again this may depend on what what constitutes making a sound... if it's the physical vibrations well then yes we would expect them to be there independent of a sensor or not. If sound is defined as what is produced upon the hearer well things change.

          BTW you can say that Hawaii is real ... independent of being there or not... and if it happens to be that Hawaii is real well you declared a truth. Conversely even if you experienced it yourself can you trust your perceptions? Especially if the real experience depends on what you believe?

          Yea I know about the issue of trusting scientists, religious, others, and even oneself... thing is how do you know none of these is deceiving you? How do you know that you are not deceiving yourself?
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          Nov 26 2013: Gravity would still be here even if we don't experience it on our own.
          What you call reality is our subjective reality made up bu the sensory inputs processed by the brain. No disagreement here.
          What I disagree with is your distinction of something existing and something being real.
          If something exists it is by definition real because it exists independent of us (as in the example of gravity). What you don't seem to differentiate is whether something is real in an absolute sense or real for you.
          No evidence doesn't make something real but the probability for something to be real (=true) increases with the amount and quality of evidence supporting it.
          Big foot and Loch Ness monster are as poor as examples as they can get, because neither is supported by evidence (unless you consider endless numbers of hoaxes evidence).
          So just because some crack head believes Elvis is still alive doesn't make it true. However if you provide current photos, perhaps a personal TV interview, his fingerprints taken in front of you and proven to be his, then the chance that it real is Elvis is overwhelming.
          So if somebody believes it to be true that 9/11 was all a conspiracy, then to this person it might be real, nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that it is not real regardless of the (false and strong) belief. Why ? Again, because there is nothing supporting such a claim.
          I think we fundamentally disagree on what is existence and what is real. You believe those are different things and I believe that if something truly exists in an absolute sense, then it is real regardless of possible observers.
          Unfortunately it seems we are unable to move beyond this difference.
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          Nov 26 2013: Jason,
          You are almost speaking for me :)
          Just one point to ponder. Your example of Hawaii. I will argue that it is still real for you even if you have not visited it. The pictures, stories, news that you have for it form a part of your perception (inference). However, it is subjective. A little bit more subjective than when you visit Hawaii and realize how and what is it.
          But suppose I am keeping a secret here with me. None other than me knows about it. Suppose it is non-physical. Also suppose I die next instant.
          Will my secret be real after my death?
        • Nov 26 2013: Harald,

          the 9/11 notion... the fact of the matter is that it is what it is... you believe it being real doesn't make it be real... just as not believing it real doesn't make it not be real... BTW In a way Jason stand and your stand is quite similar... you focus on having the evidence Jason on having the experience... of course there are also evident differences...

          It would be interesting to see where that interaction moves too...
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    Nov 23 2013: ON REALITY By Arthur Schopenhauer:

    …the greatest wisdom is to make the enjoyment of the present the supreme object of life; because that is the only reality, all else being merely the play of thought. On the other hand, such a course might just as well be called the greatest folly: for that which in the next moment exists no more, and vanishes utterly, like a dream, can never be worth a serious effort.
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      Nov 24 2013: good quote, I agree with Schopenhauer on that ;-)
    • Nov 24 2013: Vera,

      What we do now sets once and for all eternity that action... at this moment we can choose and do choose what thoughts/beliefs/feelings/actions to enliven ; the wise choose that which they can enjoy now and throughout time and even beyond it too. It is well known by many that what they choose now determines future events, some may realize that the present choices also affect the present events and then there are those who know how to even influence past events. A single thought can change it all. Choose wisely what to cultivate now and next...
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    Nov 23 2013: Hello Harald. I Like your writing starting " I say "physical" I use the meaning most people assign to the term.
    I'm very much aware that this term might be misleading when we look at the underlying facts (that's why we are discussing subjective reality vs. the absolute reality) Any material object, amazing as it might sound is actually made mostly of.........nothing. Still, it appears solid to our perception."

    I do appreciate your peaceful way of sharing thoughts - this helps us carefully listen to people.

    I believe that we, as the rest of all living creatures, have abilities to create endless realities for ourselves, within ourselves. I'm convinced that perceiving is crucial in creating realities, firstly it is the very process of life itself, secondary, this process allows every life form to remain unique, and not only survive in the unthinkable turmoil of world's change, but also evolve based on coexistence with changes, empowered by changes.

    I see our perceptions as sets of creative tools for life, granted to every living form by nature. As we experience what we create, we also can share our experience with others, to some point, as we interact. Similarity of our perceptions, however, may provoke us to mistakenly believe that we share the same reality. We live in different "worlds" and will never understand each other perfectly for many reasons. One of them is that everyone's internal reality is entirely unique, and therefore invisible to anyone else.

    In spite that, having abilities to generalize, we can imagine that our realities can be somehow put together. And it can be based on the fact that we DO interact. I suppose you have this great notion. We might somehow to come to the conclusion that we do create objective reality from our interactive personal unique realities. However, it would not be possible to perceive objectively as some phenomenon by itself on its own, only through our unique personal imagination.
    • Nov 23 2013: Vera,

      Why do you insist on cultivating recreating the notion that " We... will never understand each other perfectly for many reasons"? You know that the notion" We... may well understand each other perfectly for many reasons" is as valid if not more so...

      Indeed everyone's internal reality is entirely unique, and whether it be invisible to anyone else or visible to them shared and cultivated among beings may well depend on a single thought.

      BTW - remember the conversation of shared identical copies... I am waiting on your response there ...
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        Nov 24 2013: About Heraclitus - and your comment.
        Hi Esteban, No matter what we do or feel, we can stay alive only because we are able to constantly compare our sensations/feelings, images, events or ideas etc. Nothing can be perceived if we feel no difference in qualities of the "opposites". The differences maybe barely noticeable, or drastic and scary, but without sensing any of them we are dead. This is nothing "dualistic" about this basic process of sensations - it is about creating the very Unity of the organism, its sensations and functions.

        However, one interprets sensations and interactions of sensations in any way he wants. We all have abilities to turn anything into our personal haven or absolute disaster. The thoughts do not change the fundamental laws of our internal nature, but they change our existence.
        • Nov 24 2013: Vera,

          I am sitting here wondering into the notion "... we can stay alive only because we are able to ..." maybe we are alive because of others...

          Still fresh in my mind is the conversation with Harald of the mind resulting from our physical brain contrasted with our mind using a physical brain. There is also the notion of 'we'... it is actually a bit more fundamental: "when does a-self become a-self"? What constitutes a mind? What constitutes a singular being? What constitutes me being me? When does 'one' begin? When one's body disintegrates does one disintegrate? Is "one's body" actually OUR body, say contrasted to the body being a loaner, just a body one happens to be inhabiting, using, at this time and space? All of this and a couple of other notions leads me to wonder: Does one stay alive only because one is able? Is one alive thanks to just one's actions?

          If we consider that singular individuals come to be 'their singular individual selfs' at different stages of development we may realize different notions related to even the most fundamental ideas. For example take the notion "A singular human being begins at..." the day they turn 21, or 18 or register or are born or are conceived (and some may even argue that the physical conception is just the result of the original conceptions prior to the singularity event that prearranged and disposed of the matter)

          All of that to get to the point of considering being at physical conception... I wonder to what extent their senses are developed and they perceive the world around them? I realize I myself have been through that experience at least once. I also realize that some consider them cells just cells, heck I read that some consider and propose that its ok to terminate a life before a certain stage is reached (some proposing that line be set at...__________)

          I find curious how individuals seem and seek to be certain about the unknown ... rather than just deal with it in a certain way; excluding uncertainty
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      Nov 23 2013: Vera you said: "I believe that we, as the rest of all living creatures, have abilities to create endless realities for ourselves, within ourselves."
      I think that depends on how far you are willing to stretch the term reality.
      Sure, I can visualize (actually I'm pretty good at that) any scenario, with all it's details, of my choosing. However, this is something I wouldn't call reality as I wouldn't call a dream reality.

      "mistakenly believe that we share the same reality"
      Well, we share the same reality, but we have individual perceptions of this reality.
      Yes, probably this is true that we never will be able to 100 % each other in every facet. But in general I think most of the time we are doing a fairly good job.
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        Nov 24 2013: You maybe mean that our external conditions can be the "same", and we might have our choices to make up something different within ourselves from the "same' conditions.

        Then you probably mean, in this case, we can call outer reality our shared, or the "same" reality for all. Why it is impossible? I trust that the world is generating Endless Realities through unique events and unique living forms.

        If we are put in the same conditions of the world, have the same timing and the same "place" we would become absolutely the same, sharing the same reality and all changes, as one. In this case we'll merge into ONE creature, instantly - we will not be Many any longer. What makes us different individual life forms, in spite possible similarities? Everyone is unique in all its interactions.

        In order to "prevent" the world from shrinking into one single thing, everything creates its unique change that effect the rest of the existence. Everything, even the most "stupid" primitive "things" interact and energize entire world change. Therefore, unlike popular concepts (like ideals by Plato's) I trust that this world is forever unbalanced, asymmetrical, incomplete, and unrepeatable. There is no wholeness or ideal perfection - only new creative changes - for the sake of the world's continuity. If we'd be able to recognize the fundamental laws of nature (beyond physical laws or quantum theories), we may enter our truly new era of beliefs, new wisdom, better morals (based on everyone's uniqueness), we can develop new communications based on our truly transforming nature, and revise our recycling stiff concepts in philosophy, sciences, education and everyday mode of life.

        Crucial wisdom of timeless sages: The world continues itself through change - Heraclitus' "flux" is unavoidable under any sircumstances. Based on Flux Protagoras' thoughts regarding our unavoidable limitations in perceiving will lead us to endless discoveries.
        • Nov 24 2013: Vera,

          Just a quick note regarding Heraclitus... and the notion of 'All things come into being by conflict of opposites, and the sum of things' seems to be to engender conflicts and opposition. Personally I would rather cultivate better notions and just focus on wellbeing

          For a while I been weary of dualities and opposites. For example the notion of the map and the territory to me still lack a fundamental distinction that helps to integrate them stuff. The subjective modeled internal reality and the objective external reality to me still lack a fundamental distinction that helps to integrate them. down vs up integrate in the way. hot-cold use temperature. To me dualistic ideas still have to integrate and learn quite a bit. For example when one learns the notion of temperature one can still tell its hot or cold while at the same time transcending such dualistic opposites of hot vs cold.
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          Nov 25 2013: "You maybe mean that our external conditions can be the "same", and we might have our choices to make up something different within ourselves from the "same' conditions."
          correct, we may have different interpretations.

          "Then you probably mean, in this case, we can call outer reality our shared, or the "same" reality for all. Why it is impossible? I trust that the world is generating Endless Realities through unique events and unique living forms. "
          everybody and everything will be part of some segment of reality.
          You and me are exchanging ideas here on TED. This is a reality for us, but is no reality for my neighbor who doesn't even know what TED is.
          In this sense, yes, there are many different realities.

          " I trust that this world is forever unbalanced, asymmetrical, incomplete, and unrepeatable."
          Entropy is increasing, so we are in line with the 2. law of thermodynamics;
  • Nov 22 2013: Esteban,

    I adamantly reject it because, at least in my case, I know with 100% certainty, that it's false that "ultimately what one accepts as valid boils down to what one choose to believe." I don't choose what to believe. I accept things according to the evidence and reason. As I said, I don't choose to believe in the methods and procedures in science. I accept them according to a rationale, and to the point that the rationale is convincing. I keep aware of limitations and don't mind being surprised. But let's go simpler than science. I broke my big toe when I fell from a high bar doing some exercises. I did not choose to believe that I fell, I did not choose to believe that I broke my toe. It happened. I did not choose for evolution to be so darn convincing, so darn rational, so easily deduced from the many lines of evidence. I did not choose to discover how deceitful creationist arguments against evolution truly are. It was true despite my strongest desires for evolution to be false, and for creationist arguments to be solid and truthful. No choices anywhere Esteban. With time I learned to question claims and to follow evidence and reason. But no choices about what to believe. Choosing what to believe sounds irresponsible to me. Choosing to use evidence and reason is not a choice about what to believe, but about what methods to use before accepting claims. Even that does not involve "believing" in reason and evidence. It is just accepting the obvious. Again: no beliefs necessary.
    • Nov 22 2013: Entropy,

      Ok you choose to reject it based on the reasons you choose to hold which you claim you didn't choose. That hardly change the facts of the matter. Lets use the example of the toe you put forth, with the little caveat that the claim 'I broke my big toe' needs to actually be proven. How do we know that you actually broke it rather than just hurt it? How do we know it was from the fall itself rather than some other fluke condition that just happened at the same time? Shall we believe what the doctor says, or what the x-rays show?

      I hold that choosing to believe reason sounds quite responsible to you and thus that means that there is a case when choosing what to believe doesn't sounds irresponsible to you... it sound quite reasonable ... whether you actually choose to embrace the truth of this matter or reject it is another matter...

      I find it rather amusing how some insist on rejecting rather than accepting the obvious...
      • Nov 22 2013: What is obvious Esteban? Do you truly think that it is obvious that I chose what to believe? I didn't. No animal in this planet would survive if they had to choose what to believe. No plant in this planet would survive if they had to choose what to believe. No bacteria in this planet would survive if they had to choose what to believe. If plants don't choose what to believe, why should we be forced to it rather than just accept the self-evident? The obvious? The undeniable? Accepting is not "choosing what to believe." I can't make gods real. Therefore I cannot chose to believe in gods. Will you finally get it?

        I find it rather amusing that you admit that reality is objective and then you change gears and imply that it is not objective. Funny that in order to claim that reality is not objective you have to rely on it being objective at the same time. That's my starting point Esteban: the undeniability that reality cannot but be objective. Given that, reason follows. Given that, a few/many more steps, science follows.
        • Nov 22 2013: Entropy,

          To me it is obvious that you/me/others choose what to believe/think/do/(and sometimes even what to feel). I realize some choose to relinquish such freedom for one reason or another rather than accept the self-evident fact. Often choosing to embrace stuff dew to pear-pressures...

          Why should we be force to make a choice? well its just what happens, each be forced to make a choice while free to determine which alternative to pick... if one picks the right one one gets to be right :-) ... else...

          Just because someone can't make gods real does not mean they have to reject the existence of God . You said you accept things according to the evidence and reason and still I perceive how you refuse to accept certain self-evident evidences. For example, in reality you can choose to believe in certain stuff, you just choose not to believe in certain stuff... for whatever reason...

          I realize that your starting point is "undeniability that reality cannot but be objective"... which seems to be refuted by the subjective realities that individuals really do have in reality... So consider that there is an objective reality and a subjective one and sometimes the subject gets to perceive a glimpse of the objective reality through their subjective reality... in other words when what one think to be corresponds to what happens to be one gets a glimpse of what happens to be according to what actually happens to be even-though one only accesses what one thinks...

          I am glad you find amusing how I can stand in an objective reality that recognizes subjective realities I hope you can see me observing the existing correspondences (which include agreements, disagreements, complementaries, synergies and a bit more). Funny you think I made the claim that reality isn't objective, especially because I have no idea where you came up with that notion and its quite distant from what I actually believe.

          To me its quite telling what you choose to ignore/recognize in your response
      • Nov 22 2013: Again Esteban, if you can show me how a plant or a bacterium choses what to believe I might take your "we all have to chose what to believe" more seriously. In the meantime, I have told you and repeat, I don't choose what to believe. I can't choose to believe that there's invisible pink unicorns. I can't choose to believe in gods. My acceptance of scientific methods and procedures, again, is not an arbitrary choice. It's fundamentally based on the acceptance that there's an objective reality. Since reality is objective, I can't choose what to believe and what not to believe. I have to go by the facts and evidence.

        I did not say that there's no choices at all. What I said is that I do not choose what to believe in the way you were implying it (as if an act of "faith"). I said that you imply that reality is subjective while claiming to be convinced that there's an objective reality. Yet, you insist on talking as if reality could be subjective when you say that we all choose what to believe. I think you're mistaking subjective experiences and interpretations, with reality. There's no such thing as a subjective reality. Reality is what it is. If we interpret it wrong, that does not change reality one bit. Therefore, what might be subjective is not a reality, but an interpretation of it. This important and too often neglected distinction is essential if you want to understand why I say that I don't choose "beliefs." Let alone that I hold "beliefs" that could be fairly compared to the empty faith exhibited by the religious.
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          Nov 23 2013: Hi Entropy, I have the impression that when talking about what to believe you and Esteban are talking about different things.
          From how I get it, Esteban says that you have the choice to believe in whatever you want. You can choose to believe in a God or you choose not to. You can believe that it will rain tomorrow or you believe it will snow.
          On the other hand, what you say is that if given certain data only one answer can be correct, hence you have no choice. For example: a tree is a plant. We can't believe (at least not if we accept common scientific knowledge) that a tree is an animal.
        • Nov 23 2013: Harald,

          Sort of what you said ...just that in what I am saying it involves that when given certain data some will chose not to recognize/believe the data and claims it isn't data and some will choose to reject it (yea some will recognize the data as data). To use the example of a tree and an animal somebody could choose to claim that a tree is an animal or that its a rock without that making it be so. Yes there is one answer that happens to be correct (or happens to correspond with the reality that be) and if someone's claim does not recognize that correct answer well then that someone made a wrong claim. You could say that you have no choice but to pick the correct option given that you want to be correct... still you do have a choice... and if you want to be correct... well you choose to pick the correct choice and upon discovering what happens to correspond with the reality that be either verify you made the right choice or recognize you made the wrong choice and proceed to choose to correct the mistake... Of course some resists making this simple corrections because of the implications of making the simple corrections exposes something they refuse to accept...
      • Nov 23 2013: But what you're describing to Harald here Esteban, is very far from what I do. I do not choose to reject any data because it conflicts with what I want. I accept data as what it is whether I like what it indicates or not. Please bear in mind that you were comparing the acceptance of the methods and procedures of science to "beliefs" and "faith" to what some have for gods.

        What you said to Harald sounds all right to me, but it's far from meaning that those who deny data/evidence are on the same footing as those who accept the data. Choosing what to believe is not the same as accepting what data indicate. Not by a far shot.

        With that I think we agree, except when it comes to what you call beliefs, faith, and choice.

        See ya later alligator.
        • Nov 23 2013: Entropy,

          Consider that what I said to Harald above sounds all right to you because the implications there don't seem to produce nor transfer over to what you do. Now consider that rather than being far from and distant to its actually quite close and related. Do the experiments and see what happens. I seen how you choose to reject some data because if conflicts with what you hold! By all means observe the data yourself, and analyze it; don't believe 'me', ( do note that 'me' denotes 'me' and it also denotes 'you'! it sort of means HEY be extremely cautions with believing 'somebody' that you choose to believe).

          Yea I bear in mind that I was making a comparison where I said 'this' is like 'that' because of 'something' now lets observe the implications of doing such a comparison. Do keep in mind that the particular comparison I proposed sought to exposes something that I perceive and which will generate a cognitive dissonance to be refused or accepted... and either way it leads to the same point... Look at it from this perspective: 'A' was walking on a path as 'R' approaches. They started to dialogue and got into an interchange over wether reality was relative or absolute. R being R declared the Relativists stand.
          So A pointed out:
          "if you accept the absolute stand you will reject being a relativists
          if you reject the absolute stand you will reject being a relativists
          THUS EITHER way you will end reject being a relativists!
          Besides If I choose to pick the absolute truth as the relative truth I end up being both an absolutists and a relativists simultaneously while also holding the absolute truth and I can ALWAYS do that . (note how the relativists can only be both when by chance they just happen to pick the absolute as their truth)"

          As I sort of said : some resists making corrections because of the implications of making the corrections. Whether the relativists/subjective is right depends on what they choose to pick... same for the other.
      • Nov 25 2013: Esteban,

        There's a clear distinction between "objective" and "absolute." There's also distinctions between uses of the word "absolute," which, curiously but not surprisingly, has many unaware people talking about a "contradiction" between Einstein's relativity theory and its textual "absolutism" (when simplified into one sentence). Meaning people argue for a contradiction without noticing that they move between two meanings: the equivocation between the word "absolute" in the sense of "talking about everything," and the word "absolute" in the sense of "independent of any reference point."

        So where is my cognitive dissonance? Please state it clearly, because I see a deep cognitive dissonance between your stance that reality is objective, and your stand that we all choose what to believe. If we could choose, then reality would not be objective. Also, make sure that you do not mistake between choosing to use reason and evidence, and choosing what to believe. Remember that reason and evidence are based on the realization/acceptance that there's an objective reality, not in a groundless/arbitrary "choice."
        • Nov 25 2013: Entropy,

          Something I have observed is that many a relative insist on words having an absolute distinctive meaning when in fact the word's absolute meaning is relative to it's use. (as a relativists they should recognize that the meaning is actually relative to it's use- as an absolutists the notion of a word having a relative meaning dependent on the user presented a bit of a hurtle until realizing that one used that word gets assigned its meaning once and for all --- of course next time the word is used it can get assigned its meaning once and for all in accordance to some past/present/future ) As you sort of point out "...without noticing that they move between two meanings..." (sometimes its between infinite multiple meanings).

          I would have to wonder about the idea of "absolute" in the sense of 'independent of any reference point'". I have in the past sought to explore certain ideas from an absolute point of view that considers every point of view... its a nice way to settle disputes ...over what to do... and where everyone gets abundantly what they want, while each still getting the same thing. The concept can be a bit of a challenge for some to understand. The fact you mentioned you see a cognitive dissonance between objective reality that includes everyones individual choose of what to believe leads me to hold it will be quite a challenge for you. One way to put it is that eternal life gives life to everyone; those who want life get life and those who want death experience the death of death in a living death. Put another way everyone ends up in a place of good some appreciate it and love it then some can't appreciate it and hate it...

          Note that those who choosing to believe reasons and evidence suffices to understand reality will approximate understanding it, still, to understand it, one just needs to understand it.

          you cognitive dissonance -compare-
          the acceptance of the methods and procedures of science
          the acceptance of "beliefs" and "faith"
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      Nov 22 2013: Entropy 10 hours ago, I have anticipated your arrival at some point. Good to see you. Apparently your toe analogy was something Esteban could dance around. Well let's transform the non workable energy of the toe analogy to to workable energy of the head analogy. I have just notice the first four letters of analogy. I hope I'm not good at it. Esteban is slippery and cunning, let's box him in. So Esteban find a concrete block wall, we want you to bang your head against the wall with force and come back and tell us of your experience. I can't see where we will need a doctor or x-rays for that. The effect and understanding will be clear.
      • Nov 22 2013: Larry,

        So you want me to think inside the box banging my head against the concrete block wall with force and come back and tell you of my experience... well ... I rather use a better technique than brute force to open the door and think outside the box ... The scenery, air, light out is nicer than in the closed room... you probably know there is a saying "There's none so blind as those who will not see" ... maybe all one has to do to see where we will involves opening ones eyes, ones mind and the door and wondering about ...

        I found curious the definitions displayed for logy and ana in the dictionary.
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          Nov 23 2013: Esteban, The box was never real. It was made up with words. Did it appear real to you? How do you put a mind in a box? Let's go quantum, no pair of atoms can physically "touch" each other, or at least in the way we think two objects are touching one another. Will I experience a different cause and effect of wall to head banging with this in mind? Bottom line doubtful. The cause and effect seem independent of what I think and believe. Perhaps, that's the nature of physical reality. Oddly enough you did not call for the doctor or x-rays.
      • Nov 23 2013: Larry,

        Yea lets go quantum... and consider quantum entanglements ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement )...
        fun stuff :-) "is a physical phenomenon that occurs when pairs (or groups) of particles are generated or interact in ways such that the quantum state of each member must subsequently be described relative to the other".

        You ask "Will I experience a different cause and effect of wall to head banging with this in mind"?

        Different to what, or who?

        Yea I know that under what you consider ---The cause and effect seem independent of what you think and believe.
        Heck even under the case that the cause and effect where dependent to what one thinks and believes when one thinks and believes them to be independent one would experience that independence ... question being is it so dew to what you think and believe or dew to what be...

        So shall we believe the doctor says or what some x-ray displays...
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          Nov 23 2013: Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. Perhaps it or it's shadow copy has a problem, I'm not certain but I am no stranger to the concept. Let me avoid a battle on two fronts.

          Different to my current understanding of my state of existence. I am open minded, I do not look to resolve a problem in someone who has not resolved it in themselves. Show me a solution, and we'll go head banging at the wall.

          It,s not the wall that hurts the head the wall is neutral. The cause is mind instructing the movement of the the head to bang against the neutral wall, the effect is unpleasing to the minds sense of touch and both are stored in memory.

          Not on face value. As far as the medical professions the further I stay away from them the healthier I seem to be. Should I need medical care, I'll go. Got to go Entropy is monitoring my use of energy.
      • Nov 23 2013: Larry,

        Apparently the link incorporated the ')..' I edited the message above to fix that... seek to work now :-)

        Let me completely elude every battle on all fronts by engaging in a shared cooperative dialogue :-) which transforms 'fights' into ' graceful dance' ... BTW in the death battle with life... life wins ... and even death gets to live forever :-)

        Now to the two fronts you mentioned... first lets deal with that idea that one need to focus on evil to know good... personally I think its just a better to focus on knowing good by focusing on good... focusing on a bad idea to get a good idea just seems like a bad idea, seeking to be a good idea. The same could be said about errors, and problems. Besides when one knows what be right one can tell what be right and what isn't right. When one knows what be wrong one can just tell what be wrong. It's more efficient to know what be than going out to know every single case that isn't. When we fame it as lets look at the problem to find a solution, it may not seem like a bad idea but it is. Its been a while since I seek to focus on recognizing the situation, finding the opportunities to cultivate and focusing on doing what ought to be done.

        I liked the metaphor used in the second front... still wondering why you want and insists on going head banging at the wall... that reminds me of a friend in school who was a bit hardheaded; would go banging at the walls and anyone who took the challenge of head-banging ... that one even managed to break a couple of the bricks in the wall... of course it was simpler to just jump over it... or walk through the door...

        Yea entropy keeps increasing the disorder and life keeps adapting and ordering stuff up... doing more with less:-)
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    Nov 20 2013: Eric, Is there a possibility that we have no authority of reality only the association of having an affinity or repelling relationship that has absolutely no effect on reality whatsoever? I resent a nasty cloud of dust and gas calling me an ugly bag of carbon and water.
    • Nov 21 2013: Yes there is that possibility! Then there are other possibilities one can choose...
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    Nov 19 2013: The experience of consciousness is the stream of observation, where an organism perceives its environment with reference to itself.

    In evolution it must be essential for a self replicating, self preserving organism to have an internalized model of itself in reference to its environment.

    The primary experience of consciousness is in the stream of observation, where the organism perceives itself as separate from its environment by constantly referencing a model of itself as an existential entity in relation to external, and internal stimuli.

    "If you are not subconsciously referencing yourself as separate from everything else, do you really exist?"

    Just like information contained within DNA is expressed as the emergent property of self replication and life. Information managed by the neural networks in our brain is expressed as the mind, and consciousness. It is purely physical neural networks that add meaning to such information, and create the illusion of an observer dependent reality.

    Evolution has strengthened, and perfected this illusion of an authentic self, observer dependent reality, and stream of experiences as a reference for self preservation in complex organisms.

    It is clearly nothing external to our bodies, it is just a temporary perception that spans our lives, it's governed by the laws of physics, and chemistry, purely a biological phenomenon, it is information which is neither matter, nor energy, and its meaning is an outcome of evolution, and no man's creative genius.
    • Nov 19 2013: Anuraag,

      What if the ideas you are presenting and spreading correspond to 'malware' ' introduced into the human mind to keep it operating within a set of constraints?
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      Nov 20 2013: Hello Anuraag. "If you are not subconsciously referencing yourself as separate from everything else, do you really exist?" This is an outstanding point right into the root of our existence as unique individuals.

      I would be very grateful if you take a couple of minutes of your time to explain WHERE IS "the neural networks in our brain is expressed as the mind, and consciousness" and how we can prove its existence.

      As far as I know your concept is in harmony with Eric Richard Kandel, leading neuropsychiatrist. He suspects that our brains can produce something non-physical, something beyond brains….

      Then how would be explain the existence of living beings without any brains (sometimes extremely intelligent, towards their environment)?

      So far, I must say, no one can deny that no researcher, or surgeon, or butcher has found any image or a thought in actual brains.
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        Nov 20 2013: Its extremely difficult to find an abstraction such as a thought in a physical neural network, just like it is extremely difficult to find a calculation in a microprocessor. These are abstract tokens which emerge from such physical structures, and so it might be that no one has found it yet.

        In my theory it is possible that consciousness, or the illusion of being an observer exists wherever our brains tend to reference everything around us with ourselves. This referencing is happening subconsciously all the time, when we are awake in various places in our brains. In one of antonio damasio talk however he mentions, that it might happen in the posterior portion of the brain stem.
        • Nov 20 2013: Liked the metaphor you used of "extremely difficult to find a calculation in a microprocessor"... related to "extremely difficult to find an abstraction such as a thought in a physical neural network"

          Evidently its extremely difficult to understand the program running in the machine language of bits and bytes ... heck some cant even understand the program code itself!

          I wonder if 'the abstract tokens' emerge from such physical structures or if its the other way around... the abstract tokens merge with physical structures to direct and produce particular behaviors.... In other words is there a programer/user who created the program/instruction that created the calculation to be done? (and where did the computer that produced the calculation... come from)?
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          Nov 21 2013: SInce I remember myself I was bewildered by visible appearances that people called "Real Life". I did not trust it. When I was about 5 and saw my father with a small group of his musicians smoking and drinking in the room next to my bedroom, I was struck by how alien and unreal they seemed to me (my usual reaction on "human reality"). I wondered what all this made of? In my elementary school I told my math teacher: 1+1=2 shall be 1+1=1 because in math the unit 1 is forever the Same unit, we cannot have more than 1. Obeying this logic no matter how many times we take 1, 1+1+1+1…= 1, it stays the same unit. In spite math in our true experience No exact copies of anything are possible. However, I accepted the play of a wonder-world of math, where units and equations could gulp one another but get back to the same position and "values". I wanted to know why human logic breaks so easily in order to get wishable results. Russell tried but could not find any convincing explanations regarding math.

          The explanations are beyond microscopes and logic. We need to comprehend the nature's created Laws of our perceiving itself. In my art class I've noticed a few rules which perceptions follow regardless of what we do, paint, think, memorize, whether awake or asleep. I named them Classical Artist's Rules. They closely reveal the Laws of natural perceiving, leading me to the field that has no name.

          Perceptions behave as any classically trained artist who paints on blank canvas. He constantly Compares sensations, shapes, images, colors etc, at the same time Selects some of these to create a Composition of them Focusing on something important to him leaving the rest of impressions on a vague background, then Frames his Composition separating it from the rest of his reality. Our minds are governed by the same laws of Comparison, Selecting, Composing Focusing and Framing. We absolutely cannot produce images or thoughts, or memory without this mental routine. …..
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    Nov 19 2013: Vera, why would you ask a question you already know the answer to? No perceptions - no life, no reality. Although perception does not create reality it does allow the view to be possible. I create nothing, it's has all been done prior to my arrival or so it would seem.
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    Nov 14 2013: You can not ask this question. Your reality is different to mine and everybody else's reality. Reality is what we believe it can be.
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      Nov 15 2013: This is not reality, but your perception of reality based on your sensory input, which is something different.
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        Nov 15 2013: What's different about it? My perception of reality is what I believe is reality so its all I can describe about the matter. If my sensory input was to change due to an accident, I'm sure my reality would change also!
        • Nov 15 2013: Actually its all you think you can describe about the matter...
          There is more you can describe about the matter ...
          if only you choose to think more about the matter...
          when you choose to think more on the matter you will understand more
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    Nov 12 2013: How is our reality created?
    Perhaps creation is the cause of the real world. I have no authority to change what is true into what is false or what is false into what is true although I have tried and failed. I have the idea that I did not create myself. A single cell unzipping into billions through the appearance of time. If I did that I forgot how. If I am to recognize reality I must understand my authority problem. I am not the authority, problem solved. If I want the question answered (what is reality?) I will need to atone to the principle of Truth by virtue of willingness and accept it exactly as it is.
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    Nov 12 2013: If I close my eyes does all the light cease to exist., or is the under lying reality exist independent of what I sense and perceive.

    I just closed and then opened my eyes. Quite relieved the universe is still there. Or maybe it popped in and out of existence.

    hope people can differentiate between the underlying reality and our different perceptions of reality
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    Nov 7 2013: Based on my former comments, this is the reply to your last question: What are we as part of reality(I think is the true world)?

    I think because we are the part of the world and the universe, and what we did and do are absolutely true to the world, we should always learn from what we did in the past and focus on improving what we're doing now to promise a more harmonious future with the world and universe. That's our fundamental principle in conducting our activities. For example, we shouldn't over cut the woods to desert the forests and should develop some new technologies to protect our absolutely true world to change it for better for ourselves…….

    So be down-to-earth, learning from the past event,concentrating on current efforts to make things better and envisioning as well as exploring our possible future appropriately could be the good result of understanding what's absolutely true in our world from this thread.
  • Comment deleted

    • Nov 4 2013: - Note that the comment I responded to was removed -
      - another edit to add...

      some choose to follow claiming it's a non choice for them for they where led... to follow... evidently that's their personal preference, and they are entitled to it ... though that does not change that each ultimately choose to do what they choose to do ( of course if individuals do not have free will and each chooses to do according to the set program they get assigned the preceding claim is a mute one, the real tragedy would be to think one does not have a choice and thus choose not to choose when one does have a say in ones choices...).

      The original temptation in the bible involved eating the fruit to become God rather than just doing what God said, besides personally I prefer a constructed reality by God ... this for multiple reasons including the ultimate increase of fun within reality and outside of it too. Like I told someone: everyone can choose the better alternative or something else ... just like in a test each one can choose the right answer or something else... wether one gets it right depends on the correspondence of what one choose as right and what happens to be right. In other words one can choose the right answer without that meaning that what one chooses determines what be the right answer.
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    Nov 4 2013: Reality is what you can sense and perceive. It is relative depending on how one's brain processes sensory input data and supply the compiled interpretation to one's ego/self.
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      Nov 5 2013: I think that's too simple.
      There are many aspects of reality we can't sense or perceive.
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        Nov 5 2013: I hope it's not simpler than necessary :)
        Yes, there is always a part of reality outside of one's experience/knowledge but that's a capacity issue not really anything in basic disagreement of what I said. We include multitudes of facts as reality in the realm of our experiential capacity on a daily basis. But we need to sense it (input) and conceive it (interpretation). I think the idea will be clear if we compare surrealism with realism.
        Pray tell me what reality is beyond our sense and perception? If you answer my question it must be within it.
        • Nov 5 2013: I 'pray' in answer to your question that your understanding go beyond your senses and perception... when such prayer is answered you will understand what is beyond senses and perception which never the less is quite understandable.

          I imagine you meant to say 'please' rather than 'pray' though found the freudian slip quite revealing.

          BTW the meaning of the words are not contained in the words; likewise the ideas are not contained in the thoughts. 3D is a reality which is beyond our senses and perception which emerges from our senses and perception (sometimes :-)
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          Nov 5 2013: Esteban, you may find interesting the origins (medieval) of the common phrase "pray tell" in English as an alternative with a slightly different connotation to "please tell."

          I will leave this investigation to you if you are interested.

          "Prithee" and "pray tell" are essentially the same expression.
        • Nov 5 2013: Thanks for pointing that out... I did investigate the expression of "Prithee" and "pray tell" and discovered that what I thought was an error itself was an error... from what I found the stated words suggests connotes that the author consider that the person being addressed will not be willing to forgo and answer the request. Fortunately for me the essence of my response still remains.
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          Nov 5 2013: Pabitra, not sure what you mean with capacity issue. As a matter of fact, we only can detect with our senses a very narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum. Basically, we are limited to visible light. This is not a question of capacity but because we have no detectors for the vast majority of electromagnetic radiation.
          This is just one simple example how our perception of reality is limited.
          If you go further and look at reality as described by quantum physics everything that we consider facts and common sense actually breaks down.
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          Nov 6 2013: Pabitra....just pondering....
          You write..." there is always a part of reality outside of one's experience/knowledge...."

          If something is "outside" one's experience/knowledge, then it is not a part of OUR reality, but rather, may be part of someone else's reality?

          You say..."If you...look at reality as described by quantum physics everything that we consider facts and common sense actually breaks down".

          You guys are expressing something similar? If what I'm perceiving from your comments is "reality", I agree! LOL!

          There is always something outside our experience/knowledge which can be broken down?
          So, "reality" for an individual, may have several different elements....including fact, speculation, imagination, etc.....depending on what information we, as individuals choose to accept?
        • Nov 6 2013: Colleen,

          If something is "outside" one's experience/knowledge, then it is still part of one's reality, it's just something that is "outside" one's experience/knowledge.

          "reality" for an individual stems from a combination of reality and what they think of it, what they do with and to it.
          Reality itself encompasses the individuals, what they think, feels, dream up and a bunch of other stuff.
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        Nov 5 2013: "3D is a reality which is beyond our senses and perception which emerges from our senses and perception (sometimes :-)"
        I am confused. Are you meaning the simulated version of it? Otherwise our sight sensation is 3D enabled, we can perceive depth of field through vision. Our two eyes are designed that way. Try putting a thread through the eye of a needle with one eye closed.
        3D is certainly within our senses and perception.
        • Nov 5 2013: I mean that we actually see in 2D and create the 3D model view from integrating the two separate eye images while thinking we actually see in 3D. Sight sensation is 2D, we can perceive depth of field thanks to a complex integration of the two separate images which sometimes isn't enabled, though each eye may see just fine. Threading a needle is a piece of cake compared to catching a ball or driving through some gateways. 3D is certainly within certain individuals senses and perception and a bit beyond certain individuals developed competences. Personally I can remember and tell you about my first 3D experience because it happened in an accounting class during my first year in college! In hindsight it certainly explained why I had such a hard time catching balls and learning to drive. For the latter I used all sort of heuristics that didn't depend on 'seeing depth', such as if I am on my lane the other cars will pass without hitting me (or white light - car is coming, red light - car is going unless it was the car that had the reverse light on while still going).

          Most people have the ability to integrate the two eye sensation into a single 3D view and then for some reason may have much more difficulty producing a congruent story resulting from integrating different viewpoints from separate individuals. In math individuals may be able to solve x and y algebraic problems but if the variables change say to a and b they get confused and don't know what to do until they change a and be into x and y. Unfortunately in some coordinate systems doing certain things is practically impossible if not much more complex. For example a circle and a line can be represented by a simple constant equation if one uses the appropriate coordinate system. Depending on the system in use one may do stuff easier .

          The point I was sharing was that in reality our eyes sense in 2D though some think to see in 3D.
          Some see only through one eye at a time and cant perceive the richer experience
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        Nov 6 2013: @ Harald Jezek.
        I think capacity issue is nicely explained through Esteban's comment above.
        Regarding rest of your reply where you referred x-ray, I need to explain.
        By senses and perception what I meant was not only our biological senses, namely the five most accepted sensory perceptions. Even biologically we are capable of sensing more than 5 inputs. But essentially what I meant was physical realism. In science nothing is accepted as a fact of reality without a proof or until it is testable through experiments. For example x-ray would never have been accepted as a part of reality unless we could render its effect verifiable within our range of electromagnetic opthalmoception. For the same reason something such as clairvoyance or ghosts will never be part of physical realism or reality. Something that is extrasensory is unreal, abstract or imaginary.
        I was certainly not talking about common sense reality.
        I hope you noted that I mentioned the constant increase of the boundary of reality through our experiences. Quantum reality is now within it. We may not directly experience it but we experience its effect on a daily basis each time we refer a GPS application.
        Something so obvious as two parallel lines never meeting is not within reality and I guess will never be. Infinity is another example. Singularity, yet another.
        I hope you get my drift.
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        Nov 6 2013: @Esteban:
        At the center of the substance of your last comment lies the verifiability of string theory which claims that there are as many as 11 physical dimensions that we cannot sense or perceive but everything that we accept as real spring from those dimensions. This is not mainstream scientific theory as yet just because we do not have capacity (experimental ) to verify its credibility. So there is no string reality as yet.
        • Nov 6 2013: With that logic there was no round world reality till being accepted...rather than having the erroneous world view in place... because of 'lack of evidence' to the contrary. Do note that the evidence was there it was rejected as evidence.

          I was also going to mention how the instrumentation to validate the existence of something such as clairvoyance or ghosts could someday be part of physical reality.

          The underlying point I am addressing is that the validity of some claim depends on the congruence between what is claimed and what happens to be... being able to prove it or not is 'a secondary' issue. Scientist believe that the evidence and their methods enables them to perceive reality rather than keep them from seeing it. Few will recognize that ultimately what one considers valid boils down to what each chooses to believe to be valid. This can get a bit 'problematic' when the reality one experiences actually depends on the stories one holds of the reality... It gets even more complicated when the reality itself changes dew to the stories one holds, especial when such reality provides real evidence to maintain the story going and expanding. For example confidence in performing adequately leading to actually performing adequately. The same in the reverse. Self-fulfilling-prophecies. I can think of other examples though consider everyone gets the point and can think of additional ones themselves.

          I am puzzled by what you meant in: 'At the center of the substance of your last comment lies the verifiability of string theory which claims that there are as many as 11 physical dimensions that we cannot sense or perceive but everything that we accept as real spring from those dimensions. ' If you could please elaborate a bit on it.
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          Nov 6 2013: Pabitra: I agree it's not mainstream science, but then I think most theories started out as being not mainstream. While the impossibility to verify the validity (at least for now) of string theory through measurements and observations it shouldn't be considered.
          What is important in a theory is that it provides predictions about events that then match the prediction.
          For example, the Higgs Bosom was a theoretical prediction. Back then, nobody had ever seen it, and there was no way to measure it. It needed the LHC to finally make it possible to identify it and so obtaining proof for the theory.
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          Nov 6 2013: Esteban, ghosts or other paranormal events are different because there is no scientific theory predicting them in any way.
          To make a theory feasible you don't necessary have to have air tight proof, however, there must be at least sufficient evidence supporting the theory and it must be in line with what we observe.
          For example, the statement "there is a god", is not a theory, it's not even a hypothesis because there are no evidence supporting such a statement.
          I agree however that even using the scientific method there is no guarantee that something believed to be true, actually is true. However, science at least never stops inquiring, so eventually, the truth will come out (at least most of the time).
        • Nov 6 2013: Harald,

          Just to clarify a bit the point... the appropriate scientific claim would be that to this day we know of no scientific theory to predict them... nor know of instruments or experiments to validate (or invalidate) their existence.

          By some standards there is sufficient evidence and observations to support the belief in ghosts and other paranormal events... By some standards there will never be sufficient evidence nor observations to support the case.

          The statement "There is a God" is a factual declaration which depending on the existence of God would be true or not. Providing the proof of the existence of God would not change the veracity of the claim it would just make it a statement which has been proven. I concur with you that the statement isn't a theory, nor even a hypothesis its a factual declarative statement (which some believe is self evidently true, which some claim is a dogmatic revelation to be believed in, which some hold to be true, which some reject as true, and the list could go on and on).

          The fact some claim that there are no evidence supporting such a statement seem to me like the idea that there was no evidence supporting the claim that the earth was round, the evidence was/is there for those who know how to look for it and how to interpret it.

          I also concur with the idea that we ought to keep inquiring into the truth of the matter, the truth will eventually come out (question is what will one do with it....will one embrace it or reject it when it comes out and exposes what be true based on what be true... will one choose to use it for good things ).
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        Nov 6 2013: @Esteban.
        As reality is a function of sensory perception and as sensory perception varies like finger prints between individuals, individual reality may be different for different people. That's why I said it's relative. Since I have no access to your personal reality and vice verse, we can only exchange anecdotes.
        However, science recognizes reality as standard. This means from a scientific stand point I cannot claim anything as real unless I can forward evidence perceivable by you and all and in ways repeatable as many times as one wants with the appeal to prove me wrong so that there is a chance to modify the general version of reality.
        Your mention of flat earth debate seems to point towards an absolute reality existing 'out there' irrespective of whether we can sense and perceive it. It reminds me the famous debate between Einstein and Tagore about the flower blooming in a valley where nobody sees or experiences it. Or say, if I am not looking at the moon, whether it exists for me. That's an existential reality debate. I am not sure whether this thread is intended for that.
        I'd prefer to accept reality as something sensed and perceived in the standard framework of science and relatable to all. From that stand point, round earth was not a reality some 1000 years ago.
        To help you out of em-puzzlement, one day something so anti-common sense notion that there may exist n number of dimensions for ultra minuscule strings in perpetual vibration giving rise to both gravity and electricity may become as real as anything. I shall accept it as real when such a theory can be relatable to all in a standard framework.
        Our senses and perception will continue to be the foundation of that framework, not any revelation.
        • Nov 6 2013: Pabitra

          I'd too prefer to accept reality as reality and not dependent on it being something sensed by someone or something; An objective absolute reality rather than a relative subjective one (the relative subject being the absolute reality). Do note that your framework foundation is based on a revelation, according to senses and perceptions and other devices.

          "individual reality may be different for different people" reminds me of the notion of identical copes existing in separate minds; 'evidently' each copy was different for different people ... or so I used to believe. At a latter time I corrected that belief. I do adhere to the notion of a standard reality existing. I realized that scientists do make claims about reality in the name of science without the evidence to back up those assertions. I also realized how some shift the burden of proof to the others rather than assume it themselves based on the premise that it is practically impossible for them to prove their claim. Using that logic they would have to accept whatever is practically impossible for me to prove to them by proving to me their assertion. At some point I just determined that each one has the burden of proof... if someone states the truth and others rejected it that be the others responsibility, for someone has done their part. BTW a single voice or righteous reason should suffice to silence oppositors and direct the progress of science. In the scientific way its not the general vision of reality that dictates what reality be, it be reality that determines what reality be and what ought to be the general vision of reality according to what be reality. In principle whomever is right, is right and whomever is wrong does the corrections necessary to ensure their view of reality corresponds to reality (which exists regardless of one looking at it or not, accepting it or rejecting it). Of course there is more to the story of reality when reality expands thanks to individual actions.
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        Nov 6 2013: Esteban,
        I disagree that it's a revelation that I am claiming reality is a function of only our senses and perception (an extended understanding of things based on these) and a standard description of it relatable to all. it's a philosophy based on science We both believe in standard form of reality, may be many do, so it cannot be a private revelation.
        The private point of disagreement between us is that you think there is an absolute existential reality whereas I believe the only absolute is the relative nature of it. The standard description of reality keeps on changing as our experiences and understanding grow.
        Nice talking to you.
        • Nov 6 2013: Pabitra

          My intention is to playfully nudge you into understanding reality based on reality hovering over semantical entanglements while objectively observing them embroilments... hoping to provide an enriching 'liberating' experience (that binds you to the truth while still enabling you to 'freely' choose what to cultivate). To me making a false statement and telling a lie both correspond to untruthful assertions, just because one ignores the facts intentionally or unintentionally does not change the fact one ignores the facts and made a false statement. I mention this because I observe 'similar' semantical differentiating distinctions being used in your response when you say a revelation isn't a revelation because...

          What constitutes a revelation? is it " a surprising and previously unknown fact, esp. one that is made known in a dramatic way"? is it something else? I hold that with ' (an extended understanding of things based on these)' one can better discern what be and what to cultivate, how, why and a couple of other stuff. I realize that the words use can have multiple purposes and reasons. For a while now I realized that when someone calls me persistent or calls me stubborn they are complementing my 'continuing enduring determination' into a course of action. Which could be a desirable trait, an undesirable defect, a conscious objective choice and additional connotations. I see that their choice of words may stem from the stories they hold and what they want to achieve, similarly to dehumanizing the enemy to facilitate doing certain stuff in war. With that preparation:

          In other words... in essence you hold that reality corresponds to what 'you' thinks, understands claims reality to be... instead of holding that reality be what reality be. 'you' being the mumbo-jumbo 'changing standard description' in vogue that science arbitrarily states.

          BTW the fact one disagree or agree with what be hardly determines wether it be.

          This been nice and entertaining.
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        Nov 6 2013: Harald,
        This is a response to your exchange with Pabitra....

        " Reality is what you can sense and perceive. It is relative depending on how one's brain processes sensory input data and supply the compiled interpretation to one's ego/self."

        "I think that's too simple.
        There are many aspects of reality we can't sense or perceive."

        I do not agree that the concept is "too simple".....it is what it is:>)

        Within the simple concept, however, there may be complex information on many different levels for different people. So, what an individual can or cannot sense or perceive is subjective.... how one's brain processes sensory input data and supply the compiled interpretation to one's ego/self is subjective, and there are probably other elements that are subjective as well.
        • Nov 6 2013: Colleen,

          your response lead me to think that:
          they can sense and perceive it, they just refuse to do it

          That is the there is quite a difference between the reality we can't sense or perceive from the reality some refuse to sense or perceive... in other words it is what it is regardless if some refuse to recognize or acknowledge it or choose to accept what be... of course accepting what be does not mean that we need to keep it as it be for we can act to actually change what be.
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          Nov 6 2013: Colleen, Pabrita's view is too simple because there is more of reality that we cannot perceive or sense than we actually can.
          There is a lot our senses cannot detect. For example, we detect only a tiny fraction of electromagnetic waves (visible light), we have no sense to detect ultrasound (for example bats do), we have no means to perceive or sense all the activities going on in the subatomic realm. I could go on and on with this list.
          This is not something subjective depending who our brains process certain information.
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        Nov 6 2013: Sorry I had to come back for some clarification to be made regarding what Esteban is saying here. If I am not wrong and by his own admission:
        1. He thinks reality is what it is. I take it that he is saying that reality is absolute and independent of our sensory perception. I am not getting any other meaning from his posts.
        2. He admits that he also believes in a standard form of reality but does not clarify if that standard form of reality is based on scientific principles of evidence, testability and repeatability. he is claiming that the standard description of reality is mumbo-jumbo in vogue that science arbitrarily states.
        3. He raises point about semantics and different meaning and connotations of words. I am not clear if that means he is finding my stand dubious. I think I am sufficiently plain talking.
        4. He also admits that he is playfully nudging me to the understanding of reality based on reality hovering over semantical entanglements while objectively observing them embroilments... hoping to provide an enriching 'liberating' experience (that binds me to the truth while still enabling me to 'freely' choose what to cultivate).

        I am stumped! Either I should take that as condescending or hyperbole and I choose the later. I am happy that I could make some sense to the author of the question.
        • Nov 6 2013: Pabitra,

          Indeed I am saying that reality is absolute
          I also expressed how I believe in a standard form of reality which holds that reality corresponds to reality rather than corresponds to what some claim to be real (evidently when some claim to be real what be real, it does correspond to what some claim, though when some claim to be what is't well what be is that some claimed to be what isn't and what be be what be , some made a false claim ).
          What I sought to convey with the statement of mumbo-jumbo in vogue that science claims referred to the changing standard description of reality being an oxymoronic concept for a changing idea or thing used as the standard measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations complicates the comparisons.
          Yes I did raised the point that thinking a revelation isn't a revelation does not alter the fact of the revelation being a revelation as a semantic entanglement. For the record I do not find you stand dubious its quite clear to me that you choose to hold such a stand. I do find it peculiar how on the one hand you claim to base your stand on evidence testability and repeatability while at the same time in practice rejecting the absolute reality.

          I am sorry that you are stumped and you choose to take my comments the way you did... I had intended and hoped that you would see my comments as I intended them... rather than as you choose to do... evidently to me what you choose to do has a lot to do with the beliefs and stories you choose to hold and what you choose to do is up to you. I wanted this to be a fun interchange where each learned and contributed towards the enrichment and understanding of themselves and others.

          From what I perceive in your response its evident to me that the playfully nudging towards fun discoveries was considered by you as something else, you could take what I said differently though you choose for whatever reason to consider it as you did... hopefully this will help to clarify some stuff..
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          Nov 6 2013: Pabrita, there are lots of things I disagree with Esteban, or perhaps I just don't get what he means because he talks so much in circles instead of getting to the point of his argument.
          However, 1 point stands out and I actually though we all agreed upon that.
          This is that there is our perceived reality as produced by our brains based on sensory input and absolute reality.
          Let's go back to string theory and assume it's true. So if vibrating strings are the basic raw material of everything then this would be an element of absolute reality because it would be a fact regardless of whether or not there is any observer or the observers senses, measurement methods, bias, etc.
        • Nov 6 2013: Harald,

          Just consider that the circle (2D object) is actually a point (1D object) with a radius of understanding ... of course it could be a sphere (3D object) ...

          a point with a radius produces a nice circle in 2D and a nice sphere in 3D... I think there are other objects equidistant from a point in the other dimension though I ignore their names...

          I have to pass on string theory dialogue for the time being because I am unfamiliar with it for the time being. It sounded a bit like does a tree falling in the forest create ripples...
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      Nov 6 2013: Hi Esteban:>)

      Some people cannot honestly perceive something (for example.....me.....with some scientific/technical facts), and, as you say, some refuse to even look at the information. That seems to be another variable when discussing reality......good point!

      I believe we can change our reality when/if we are willing to accept new information as reality. The example of our world being flat, which was brought up on this thread. It appears, that with the information available at that time, it seemed to be accepted that the world was flat. With new exploration, observation and discovery, we now accept different information as fact/reality. So, I agree with you that we can refuse to accept new information, and/or, we can have an open mind and heart and be willing to explore beyond what we think we know:>)
      • Nov 6 2013: Colleen,

        I will go on a limb here... hopefully without going to far of the branch...

        Some people cannot honestly perceive something intuitive perceive and refuse to look deeper into the truth of the matter/issue/idea/story. Some insist on maintaining the story they hold and believe they can't change such story while some recognize what be, acknowledge it and then focus on cultivating/building what will be 'now'.

        Note that with the information available at that time some accepted the fact/reality as fact/reality and some refused to accept it because of ... the implications and changes involved.

        I consider a heuristic related to knowledge and the wise... it is inversely proportional to emotive responses and knowing the truth. Those who know the truth are more open and serene to objective explore and consider propositions --- the exercises serves to validate what they know or discover something they didn't know (and expand what they do know). Then there are those who see the truth as a treat to their standing and what they hold to authoritatively know. In a way its related to the allegiance towards a fixed mindset where image and appearance is more valued than a growth mindset where learning and knowledge is mostly valued. The fixed are more interested in who is right and being right independent of what be right while the later are more interested in what be right and being right based on what be right.

        I liked what you said last... ' have an open mind and heart and be willing to explore beyond what we think we know'.

        A while back I had the revelation that what distinguishes the charlatans from the visionaries was NOT the fact each talked about what was't ... what sets them apart was their attitude towards the facts... only the visionary recognizes them for what they where and where willing to expose the truth of the matter... it didn't really change the validity viability of their vision/proposition. Something similar happens to the wise, the truth helps
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          Nov 6 2013: Esteban,
          Why do you think/feel you may be going out on a limb with your comment?
      • Nov 6 2013: Because the interactions here have been mostly a bit scientific biased rather than including the intuitive stand ...
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          Nov 8 2013: That is what I suspected Esteban, and I prefer to ask for clarification, rather than assume:>)

          I wholeheartedly support the idea to consider ALL available information when exploring any topic, and as I've said in comments on this thread, I believe our reality is based on information we are willing to explore, including science based fact, intuition, instinct....I like to consider ALL information, and this practice has been very helpful in my life experiences.

          For example:
          23 years ago, I sustained a near fatal head/brain injury, had emergency craniotomy, and at first, because of the severity of the damage, was not expected to live. After two weeks unconscious, kept alive with life support systems, the body started to stabilize, and regained consciousness. My family was told that I probably would never function "normally" again.

          In the back of my mind (such as it was), I knew I learned how to walk and talk before, and I was determined to do it again.....to what level, I had no idea.

          I was constantly bugging technicians.....wanting to view the x-rays, Scans, EEG charts, reviewing the cognitive testing, etc. etc. I wanted to learn what happened clinically, and I explored all scientific information. The prognosis I was given, was based on previous similar injuries....reality based on scientific fact, which I accepted....to a certain extent.

          With intuition/instinct, I also was aware that I had learned functions before, and I believed I could learn them again. This was reality, based on my previous experience, and according to science, didn't have much value. However, within a short time I was functioning again at a high level.

          Scientific reality at the time, was that if certain parts of the brain were damaged, a person would lose certain functions.

          Scientific reality NOW, is that the brain creates new neural pathways. Nice to know science finally caught up with my intuition/instinct! LOL:>)
      • Nov 8 2013: Collen,

        Thanks for your response and sharing life experience. Succinctly put be aware that when you declare to be open to consider ALL available information it can attract good and bad stuff. I prefer to be open to what I ought to be open and closed to what I ought to be closed.

        Indeed I too prefer to validate and clarify to ensure ones assumptions corresponds to what happens to be. In that light I assume that by " to consider ALL available information when exploring any topic" you intend to mean 'actual valid and relevant towards understanding' this not according to some authority's claim but according to what be true. A similar related idea is the notion of the tolerant tolerating all... Notice the challenge of remaining tolerant when faced with the intolerant. Giving each tolerance accordingly to their state resolves the issue... one gives the tolerant tolerance and one gives the intolerant 'intolerance' (which comes in the form of enforcing them into tolerance. For being forced into tolerance is what they find intolerant).

        Do we need to be accepting of all perspectives? Why would we need to accept erroneous perspectives as valid perspectives? Of course the challenge involves actually knowing which perspectives belong to which category and to determining what to do with each one accordingly to what ought to be done to each one. Your first line points the way... always seek clarification rather than assume it ... I consider that based on what I seen you post in essence we mostly agree...
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          Nov 8 2013: Esteban,
          My pleasure to share information:>)

          I agree....when we are open to information, we may get a variety of information. Information is simply information.....neither good or bad, in my perception. That is why, as thinking, feeling, intelligent, multi sensory, multi dimensional human beings, we have a filter system in our brain.

          How do you determine what you "ought to be open" to, and what you will be "closed" to? In my humble perception, that creates limitation, because you have already made a choice regarding what you will, or will not be open to.

          I am open to ALL information, and with my own filter, I decide what information I embrace as my own reality....or not.

          I did not say anything about "accepting all perspectives". I said I am open to information. I LISTEN and HEAR all available information to the best of my ability.

          You seem to like to speak in riddles and puzzles, and I suggest that the practice causes difficulty in understanding you or continuing a conversation.
      • Nov 8 2013: Why/how would determining what on ought to be open and what one will be closed to create limitation rather than opportunities? look at it this way having already made a choice regarding to love or to hate focused on love enables one to guide every opportunities to cultivate love, always.

        Having already made a choice regarding what one will, or will not be open/closed to enables us to focus on cultivating it. I realized a long time ago that my own filter can be easily mislead into thinking that what is wrong is right and what is right is wrong and to me believing one can actually distinguish and discern for oneself which is which opens the door into dangerous delusional deceptions difficult to escape. The worst kind of blindness involves refusing to see, the worst kind of slavery involves believing one is free while choosing to remain enslaved.

        The way I determine what I ought to be open to and what I will be closed to involves a simple heuristic: Be it a dream be it real, always choose the better way. That is be it for real be it pretend always choose what be right to choose. It also involve focusing on what be right independent of who that validates or invalidates. In a way it would be calling a coin-toss "heads I win, tails you lose" ... yea either way I win! The same happens in conversations if I learn I am right or I learn I am wrong :-) then I learn something about what be. That is in conversations I can always learn something about myself and what be, whatever happens I win :-) And others can win too if they choose to learn what they ought to learn.

        The reason I think you perceive me speak in riddles and puzzles stems from using a language applicable to all framings each one getting according to their belief language. For example the statement : "may you reap abundantly what you sow" can be a blessing and a curse. Can you see why? and how? that be so... I also value the notion of wonder. Like to cultivate it, ideally in the eureka/humorous: 'Oh I get it!
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          Nov 9 2013: Esteban,
          I agree with making a choice to love rather than hate. Personally, I am open to information about "hate" because it is an opportunity to learn. So, I am open to receiving information about that topic, and closed to the practice.

          In my humble perception, this is how we sometimes create change. If we totally close something or someone out, there is no opportunity to learn about that concept or person, and no opportunity to connect.

          I agree with you...."the worst kind of blindness involves refusing to see...", and that is why I prefer to be open to ALL information for the purpose of learning. It does not mean I accept or embrace ALL information as my own, it simply means I am open to learning, which seems to be your practice as well:>) As I am open and learning, it gives me a glimpse of the many different realities that different people embrace, and this practice encourages compassion.

          The reason I perceive your dialogue to be complicated, is that you seem to sometimes go round in circles. When it comes to dialogue in an on-line forum, more is not always better. I respect your reality, and it would be good to be able to understand it more effectively:>)
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    Nov 4 2013: I think reality is objective but our understanding of reality is subjective. The earth is spherical not because I think it is spherical and neither was earth flat when we thought it was flat. So is also true of social reality. Social reality is constructed and constantly evolving. There are forces and processes shaping our reality. But at any point social reality is objective but our understanding of why certain events happen might be subjective.

    There are perhaps some reality that are only creations of our mind (eg. hallucinations) but not all reality are so.
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    Nov 3 2013: What is reality?

    Whatever I say it is.
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      Nov 5 2013: No, that is YOUR reality.
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        Nov 7 2013: So? Our brains create reality. Period. If your brain and my brain create the same reality, we can get together and call it science.

        If my brain creates a different reality from yours, we can walk away understanding that the other has some type of mental illness and needs to be medicated...
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          Nov 8 2013: This is not absolute reality because it's subjective.
          If there is a red car, most of us will agree it's red, however, the color red is not a feature of reality but a construct of our brain.
          Absolute reality is independent from us observing it, or even more we don't even have to exist for absolute reality to exist.
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        Nov 8 2013: Harald,
        If there is a red car, and most of us agree it is red, what happens when a color blind person says it is green? I agree with you that color is a human construct. However.....some animals recognize color (a bull will go after red for example) so is it truly a human construct?

        You say...absolute reality is independent from us observing it, and yet you are seeking absolute reality? I agree that we may not have to exist for absolute reality to exist. However, we may not recognize various forms of absolute reality while in human form.
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          Nov 8 2013: Colleen, the color example shows clearly how subjective this part of reality is. That was exactly my point. Dogs can oly see 2 colors (I think it's green and red), colorblinds have also limitations, and the blind sees nothing at all.
          I say, absolute reality just exists, no matter if anybody is here to contemplate it. This doesn't mean that we can't create objective views of absolute reality, but it might be possible that, with our limitations not all aspects of reality are accessible. But that's just speculation.
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        Nov 8 2013: No. Your brain creates absolute reality too. There is no reality external to the self. There has to be some type of organism to interpret the physical world and label it reality. If there is no interpretation, there is just the physical and reality ceases to exist.
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          Nov 8 2013: Interesting Linda...let's start at the very beginning...our brain has created the label "absolute reality".....has it not?
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          Nov 8 2013: Linda,
          You write..."If there is no interpretation, there is just the physical and reality ceases to exist".

          You are suggesting that the physical is not reality?
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          Nov 8 2013: " there is just the physical and reality ceases to exist."
          Not sure I can follow you. You mean the "physical" is not real. ?
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      Nov 8 2013: Yes MAM Linda! LOL:>)

      Seriously....I agree with you....my reality is what I believe and say it is, as your reality is what you believe and say it is:>)
  • Nov 3 2013: Did you ever think about what it is that makes reality real ?

    How is our reality created?
    Our reality or reality? Our reality would be the little or the much we can grasp of actual reality. Reality is not "created." Our reality, is what we can grasp from the real one. It's "created" from the input we get from actual reality through our senses.

    Isn't it the perceptions our brain creates based on our sensory inputs ?
    Ah, so we were coming here. I suspected so. Our brain receives the input, and our cognitive capabilities interpret them. But I suspect we are mixing reality with our perception of it in these questions.

    But what if we lack a sense?
    Then we miss that art. Sorry, but that's that.

    How does reality change for somebody who cannot hear or see?
    Reality does not change. Only the person cannot approach such part except by reasoning, which makes some pretty interesting stuff possible. Like Hellen Keller to be able to imagine what hearing might be like.

    Or take it even a step further, assume you are deprived of all your senses, What would reality mean in such a case?
    I don't think such a thing is possible to survive at birth without a hell of a lot of help. If you knew senses before, then it must be hell.

    And last but not least, let's assume you are born without any senses. What would that mean to your reality?
    That I'm as good as dead.

    So what is reality and what are we as part of this reality?
    Reality is that which is. We are part of this reality, of course. Otherwise we could not even make these questions. What are we as part of this reality? What do you mean?
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      Nov 5 2013: It appears from the comments we all agree that there are 2 aspects to reality.
      One is the absolute reality that is the foundation for everything.
      The other is the subjective reality that we create as a model to manage our day to day life and to make sense of our environment.
      So, while this model is useful for us, it doesn't really tell us much about the absolute reality.
      Only recently, quantum physics is starting to give us a glimpse of what is really at the bottom of everything.
      Beside, quantum physics is totally counter intuitive putting our model of reality on the head. .
      That said, while the question about reality might seem trivial, it really isn't if you keep thinking about it.
      • Nov 6 2013: It s trivial. Completely and absolutely trivial. Reality is there. What we can gather form it is another problem. Quantum physics does not really change what we can perceive. I just think that it opens new parts of reality to us, but in the end, in a day-to-day basis, it's all ok. Who cares, for example, that solid objects are mostly empty space? It remains true that I can't pass through walls without breaking them. How that works despite that it's mostly empty space is interesting, but solid is still solid. Only not the kind of solid we thought that it was, etc.

        But trivial it remains regardless.
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          Nov 6 2013: You also could say that exploration of the universe beyond the point we actually can reach is trivial. I think what is trivial and what is not is a rather personal decision, don't you think so ?
          "Who cares, for example, that solid objects are mostly empty space?", well some people do because it tells you something about nature.
          It's not necessarily the fact that an object is made mostly of empty space that matters but the implications it brings with it (e.g. that there must be forces at work that hold the atoms together in such a way that if forms object x).
          Considering an understanding of nature trivial is saying "no " to any scientific inquiry and progress.
      • Nov 6 2013: Not the same. You said that the question about reality might seem trivial, but it was not. I disagree. I think that the "question" about reality that you kind of posted is trivial indeed. Agreed that what is trivial and not is somewhat up to the person, but disagree with the "philosophical" mumbo-jumbo about/against reality.

        So, I said "who cares that solid objects are mostly empty space" as a figure of speech. I do indeed care. But my point was that solid is still solid. I find that objects are mostly empty space very interesting, only not to the point of denying that solid objects are still solid objects, only our understanding of solid might change, but solidity stays the very same. Is this clearer?

        An understanding of nature is not trivial. It's interesting and beautiful. The "philosophical" mumbo-jumbo is making a storm in a glass of water.
        • Nov 6 2013: I wonder if there will come a time when technology will enable us to walk through the solid walls.
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          Nov 6 2013: Fine, we disagree about what is trivial and what is not. No problem.
          Maybe you are not aware of it but philosophy and science are actually very much related in the sense that philosophy is the foundation for scientific inquiry. Philosophy brings up ideas that science then puts to test.
          Therefore calling philosophy "mumbo jumbo" is a misunderstanding of philosophy.
          Ah, and nobody is discussion "for or against reality". We all know that reality exists, but it should also be clear that our day to day reality is no what absolute reality is, although it just serves us fine for practical purposes.

          Anyway, thanks for your input.
      • Nov 6 2013: Esteban,

        A better understanding of how solidity works might suggest some avenue for it. But I doubt it.
      • Nov 6 2013: Not a problem Harald. Just last clarification. I do not despise philosophy I despise the mumbo-jumbo made up about reality by certain philosophers and pseudo-philosophers.
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    Nov 3 2013: Without any external input you would be dead, Kaput. If you managed to survive you still would not progress any further than what you were born with in brain functionality.

    Reality is what hits you. If it hits you it's real. What hits you progresses you.
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    Nov 3 2013: If you had no senses at all, you wouldn't be a living organism. You'd be part of reality but you'd have no way of building any model of the world.
    However, with very limited senses you can start building theories about the input you get from the outside world. If you don't have a brain, then a convinient model of reality is figured out through genetic trial and error. I you have a brain, you can also compute your model through trial and error. The idea is to be able to make predictions, using a simplified and fictionnal interpretation of reality.
    So if you're a tree, your inborn knowledge allows you to synthetize wood using CO2, through photosynthesis.
    If you're a rat or a human being, your inborn knowledge allows you to see the world in 3D, which it is not of course, and to use this model for navigation.
    But specific to humans -( at least some and since very recently) is the ability to challenge the biological model we develop instinctively. The invention of science was the revolution that allowed creative guess-work to compete against itself, survival of the most explanatory. And today we know reality is objective and we know we can make progress at figuring out what is possible. Because this is what reality is ; the set of what is possible.
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      Nov 4 2013: Not sure that without senses you wouldn't be a living organism, however, I agree that you couldn't build a model of the world.
      Building a model is exactly the point. Model is not same as something being real. It just means that it is some kind of approximation we can work with on a day to day basis.
      I think the dilemma we are facing when discussing reality is the fact that we have no (apparent) means to look at reality as an outside observer. It's a bit like the fish in the pond which is confined to its body of water without having any clue and any means to ever discover what lies beyond the pond.
      Yes, I think there must be some objective reality that underlies everything else.
      However, what is real and what is not is not so obvious anymore since we know about quantum physics.
      In the quantum world, the laws of our macro world break down and reality gets a very different meaning.
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        Nov 5 2013: " However, what is real and what is not is not so obvious anymore since we know about quantum physics. "
        Please explain.
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          Nov 5 2013: Just one example that contradicts our real life experience and what we call reality.
          In quantum physics you can shoot a subatomic particle from point A to point B and on it's way it takes all possible ways to accomplish that feat and it does it simultaneously. Can you wrap your mind around that ? Does that align to what we consider common sense ?
          Yet, experiments seem to prove that this is exactly what happens.
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        Nov 5 2013: But that's not new.
        The world being a spinning sphere is a barking mad idea. Far worse than particles taking "all possible ways".
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          Nov 5 2013: No it's not new, but difficult to wrap the mind around it nevertheless.
          I have less problem imagining the earth spinning.