INFORMATION

This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are essential to make our site work and others help us to improve by giving us some insight into how the site is being used. For further information, see our Privacy Policy. Continuing to use this website is acceptance of these cookies.

How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
Message
Author
User avatar
John G
Posts: 74
Joined: February 3rd, 2016, 2:44 am

How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#1 Post by John G » February 7th, 2016, 9:44 pm

I would argue that life is an illusion. One played to all our senses. We just can’t tell and there for the question is moot.

The illusion is good enough. Sufficient. Any answer is unknowable.
A good learner is forever walking the narrow path between blindness and hallucination. ― Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#2 Post by Dave B » February 7th, 2016, 10:04 pm

Well, the illusory bastard who set an illusory fire in the illusory shed in the illusory garden of the illusory flat below me about an hour ago was a master illusionist!

But the illusory fire brigade sorted it with their illusory hose.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
John G
Posts: 74
Joined: February 3rd, 2016, 2:44 am

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#3 Post by John G » February 7th, 2016, 10:30 pm

:hilarity:

Maybe this should be under humor.
A good learner is forever walking the narrow path between blindness and hallucination. ― Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#4 Post by Dave B » February 7th, 2016, 10:52 pm

Huh, not so funny, buster!

From my kitchen window it looked as though the actual flat below me was on fire, so I decamped to my car to dial 999.

But that was an illusion, the flames I could see reflected on the steel panels of the shed were from the burning fence, which was below my sight line. I did not pause to get the steps to get a better view...

Bright bit: my calmness in the situation surprised even me, no angina, just a tad of breahlessness after things got "back to normal". But, always seem to "be at my best" in emergencies, luckily!

Sorry, derailed your topic for a bit, now, what were you saying?
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
John G
Posts: 74
Joined: February 3rd, 2016, 2:44 am

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#5 Post by John G » February 7th, 2016, 10:58 pm

I suspected that you were not kidding so I had to check.

An expensive laugh if there was damage to your property. Still it is sort of funny. :)

Glade that you are all right.
A good learner is forever walking the narrow path between blindness and hallucination. ― Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#6 Post by Dave B » February 7th, 2016, 11:06 pm

No damage.

Contacted the police (by email) about securing the property. Now got to stay awake until they come to discuss it it seems. The fire was logged as a potential crime and my vulnerability was given a case ref as well.

Asked them if I was allowed to screw the gate up from the inside, they said it should not be a problem.

All seemed very real to me, but so it did for thiose in The Matrix... If one cannot find a funny side to these sort of things one can suffer a very miserable life. Should some one had been injured it would have been very different.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
John G
Posts: 74
Joined: February 3rd, 2016, 2:44 am

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#7 Post by John G » February 7th, 2016, 11:18 pm

My the timing was perfect. Sort of. :wink:

Illusion in this context, in case my irony is lost, it can be hard to detect, means real to me. :)
(Clarification is for others, I think dave does a good job of detecting my irony and were I have made a mistake.)

Stay safe Dave.
A good learner is forever walking the narrow path between blindness and hallucination. ― Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#8 Post by Dave B » February 7th, 2016, 11:30 pm

I aim to, still too much to do...
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#9 Post by Alan H » February 7th, 2016, 11:51 pm

Oh dear! Take it easy, Dave.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#10 Post by Dave B » February 8th, 2016, 12:31 am

No real probs, Alan, but thanks. Police just been, can go back to bed now...
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#11 Post by Alan H » February 8th, 2016, 12:56 am

:sleep:
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
jaywhat
Posts: 15807
Joined: July 5th, 2007, 5:53 pm

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#12 Post by jaywhat » February 8th, 2016, 7:02 am

Did you see the guy light the fire? Are you sure it wasn't spontaneous, Dave? Anyway glad you are OK.

lewist
Posts: 4402
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 8:53 pm

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#13 Post by lewist » February 8th, 2016, 9:21 am

jaywhat wrote:Did you see the guy light the fire? Are you sure it wasn't spontaneous, Dave? Anyway glad you are OK.
John! Please don't take this personally. It is the kind of thing that happens on TH sometimes. I have met Dave at a TH meetup in London a couple of years ago. I have not met Jaywhat but I have read both his books and those written by his wife, Ninny. Online we are in many ways a group of supportive friends, as Humanists should be.

Look you lot! Behave! Dave is fine and we have our new pal John wondering if he has entered the internet funny farm. :laughter:

{turns to John}

John! Your OP is the first philosophical question I was ever aware of, asked by my big brother when I was about eleven. He would have been seventeen. I was intrigued by the idea but ultimately realised that it was not a life changer. We may be aware of such questions but life goes on. I accept that Lorraine will be here shortly to sparkle my house (no dust permitted here) and that I will go hospital visiting this evening.

However, I can't see you. Does that mean you don't exist? The coffee machine should have finished and am about to got to the kitchen to our myself a fine mug of coffee. Does it exist when I am not in the kitchen?

Ahhh! The coffee is good, illusory or not.
Carpe diem. Savour every moment.

Compassionist
Posts: 3527
Joined: July 14th, 2007, 8:38 am

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#14 Post by Compassionist » February 8th, 2016, 10:13 am

I am glad you are ok Dave. John, are you familiar with the concept of Maya in Hinduism? If not, please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_%28illusion%29 Thank you.

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#15 Post by Dave B » February 8th, 2016, 10:15 am

Yes, back to the topic peeps!

As a self-identified pragmatist my only response to the question reflects Lewis', "Does it really matter."

I look at the world I have known and see almost infinite variety, from how many kinds of sub-atomic particles there are upwards through the seven billion odd individual people with unique personalities yet surprisingly many shared characteristics - the multiplicity of natural variety versus the commonality of a shared evolution.

I think of the arts, with their similarly common, shared themes and and their unique adventures.

I think of human nature that can vary from the compassionate, empathethic nature to the non-pathological psychopath, not sick just seriously nasty.

I look at the trees, every one unique. And so forth...

"Illusion", what is that? Not quite the opposite of "delusion", which might be a possible substitute in the title! Illusion and perception are closely linked, would we not need a surprisingly common perception for all our world, our life and all we see, feel, hear, touch to have a common experience at the level of detail required to make the system work as an illusion. Or is it that we have individualised illusions?

I can already see holes in the above and await others filling them in, or digging them out even further until my perceived structure collapses, proves to be illusionary! Delusionary?
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#16 Post by Dave B » February 8th, 2016, 10:16 am

Compassionist wrote:I am glad you are ok Dave. John, are you familiar with the concept of Maya in Hinduism? If not, please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_%28illusion%29 Thank you.
Oops, sorry, just noticed that the question is pointed at John.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
Tetenterre
Posts: 3244
Joined: March 13th, 2011, 11:36 am

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#17 Post by Tetenterre » February 8th, 2016, 11:23 am

It was one of those things we had what we thought were "deep meaningful discussions" about as teenagers. It soon became apparent to me that it was functionally unanswerable and that, even if it was answerable, it most likely would not make any difference to how I was going to live my life. Later in life as my hobby of observational astronomy led to questions about what constitutes "objective observation", I learned more about visual processing (and hence other sensory processing) and memory, the whole distinction of illusion/reality became a tad more blurred, but still irrelevant to any meaningful practical response to John's OP.

This old In Our Time on Imagination and Consciousness has some interesting things to say that touch on the issue:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00546vr
Steve

Quantum Theory: The branch of science with which people who know absolutely sod all about quantum theory can explain anything.

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#18 Post by Dave B » February 8th, 2016, 4:45 pm

Currently listening to The Infinite Monkey Cage, subject this week: reality and illusion.

Point one- we share languages and therefore realities, though one person's perception of the meaning behind the words may not be shared by his neighbour even if they share a common understanfing of the individual words, so that instance needs expansion.

Philosophers can debate this sort of thing adnauseum, and still get a bloody nose the next time they use the wrong word to the wrong person.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

User avatar
John G
Posts: 74
Joined: February 3rd, 2016, 2:44 am

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#19 Post by John G » February 8th, 2016, 4:51 pm

I remember as a child, 5 or 6, eating my peas.
Green thing out of a can. I love the real things fresh out of the garden. Not sure what they put in can or tins.

As a child and because the darn things were green and mushy, out of a can, I preferred to push them around my plate and wonder, where did pea's come from. What was inside a pea and what was inside the inside of a pea and ...

"John, eat your pea's.' I thought that was a good answer to the riddle what was inside the pea.

Young children seem to have no problem with concepts that twist adults into knots.

I have a bit more to say on this topic. I tend to rush things when I get excited so I may be a while composing my followup post.

Love you all, Your posts bring a smile to my face.
Compassionist wrote:I am glad you are ok Dave. John, are you familiar with the concept of Maya in Hinduism? If not, please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_%28illusion%29 Thank you.
My strongest influence on the topic would draw from Buddist philosophy. Lots of pitfalls when looking at this philosophy. They tend to say things to try and make you think and are quite happy to leave you confused.


Lots of other examples. The aboriginal idea of dream time for examples. In the end, it is curious how humans as a group have come up with these ideas.
lewist wrote:However, I can't see you. Does that mean you don't exist? The coffee machine should have finished and am about to got to the kitchen to our myself a fine mug of coffee. Does it exist when I am not in the kitchen?
How about this. You exist because you have sent me this wonderful gift the post. I did not know about this gift until I saw your post. I could not have imagined it. I could have imagined something like it but until I looked at it, it did not exist for me in my brain.

The construct, your kitchen is something that exists in your mind as a function of your brain. All five senses contribute to its existence in your brain. Once you leave the kitchen the construct collapses. You no longer sense the kitchen and it becomes an illusion or an idea. Very real .. all you have to do is go back into the kitchen to turn the coffee pot off.
A good learner is forever walking the narrow path between blindness and hallucination. ― Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm

User avatar
Dave B
Posts: 17809
Joined: May 17th, 2010, 9:15 pm

Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#20 Post by Dave B » February 8th, 2016, 5:17 pm

John, you replied, to Lewis:
You exist because you have sent me this wonderful gift the post.
Aw, come on, surely the fact that you received a post on this forum dies not prove that "Lewis" exists, well, as a person anyway. How do we know that you are not merely a Turing machinevsomewherevupvtherevin The Cloud?

Now, having met the lovely chap I know that a human entity with that identity exists in this world - even if in some outlandish place . But I only have evidence that an entity called "Lewis" has also inhabitted this forum for years, with a consistent hature to his posts, I cannot prove that the two "Lewis" entities are the same on this evidence.

Sorry to speak of you thus Lewis :)
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

Post Reply