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How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
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Dave B
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Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

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

Latest post of the previous page:

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

#22 Post by Lord Muck oGentry » February 8th, 2016, 7:16 pm

John G wrote: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.
I'm not persuaded.
Here are examples of illusions used in stage magic:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balducci_levitation
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sawing_a_woman_in_half

Here is a definition of the word:
illusion
ɪˈl(j)uːʒ(ə)n/
noun

an instance of a wrong or misinterpreted perception of a sensory experience.
"stripes embellish the surface to create the illusion of various wood-grain textures"
synonyms: mirage, hallucination, apparition, phantasm, phantom, vision, spectre, fantasy, figment of the imagination, will-o'-the-wisp, trick of the light; ignis fatuus
"the magical illusion is created using mirrors, lights, and paint"
a deceptive appearance or impression.
"the illusion of family togetherness"
synonyms: appearance, impression, imitation, semblance, pretence, sham; More
false appearance, deceptive appearance, deception, misperception;
raresimulacrum
"the lighting helps to increase the illusion of depth"
antonyms: reality
a false idea or belief.
noun: illusion; plural noun: illusions
"he had no illusions about the trouble she was in"
synonyms: delusion, misapprehension, misconception, deception, false impression, mistaken impression; fantasy, dream, chimera, fool's paradise, self-deception, castles in the air, castles in Spain;
fallacy, error, misjudgement, fancy
"I was under no illusion about the difficulty of my job"


There is such a thing as seeing through an illusion on the stage: you find out what is really going on.

As for the broader definitions: we can correct misinterpretations, clarify misconceptions, see through shams, recognise imitations, discern pretence and so on.

The common theme here is that an illusion is something that, at least in principle, we need not be taken in by. ( We may, of course, be taken in by an illusion because we are not acute enough or not energetic enough to find out what is really going on; but that is another matter)
If the answer is unknowable, the distinction between illusion and what is really going on collapses: we no longer know what it means to say that something is an illusion.
What we can't say, we can't say and we can't whistle it either. — Frank Ramsey

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

#23 Post by John G » February 8th, 2016, 8:12 pm

[Posted before I read Lord Muck oGentry post.]
Dave B wrote: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?
A thinking machine, human computer, alien life form, sent me the post. From what I read, he/she/it, had something interesting to say. The random chance of a post appearing without someone doing something is pretty low. Not discounting that the computers that the board runs on decide to comment on humans and do something to let us know they are there. They do that anyways, we just ignore it or ponder why the board is down or has some other problem.

You don't know that I am not a turning machine and thus an illusion. Is it important? Perhaps. It depends on the questions you ask, how important the question is to you and can you trust the answer. An exercise in critical thinking. Guess we should add can you test it. If you can't test it then it's interesting and either needs more work or it needs to be discarded or it just remains interesting.
Dave B wrote: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 :)
I now have extra data points. Dave posted over the last while about some human things. That is what my intuition tells me. I have other bits of data. messages that we have exchanged were he answered and I had no idea what he meant.

"Duh?" How did I take this message and process it. To the question I posted to Dave this answer meant to me, Yes of course or No not a clue or Are you daft, don't bug me. I ruled out the last. Not something that Dave would imply. He strikes me as the type who would politely tell me to sod off. Small probability that this was true but remote.

So I don't think I need to know if Dave is a human or something else. My intuition tells me that most likely he is human. Now I know a little bit more about Lewis. Which make Dave more human. Its what we humans do.

If I was to hop on a plane and go visit Dave and Lewis, all the posts in the world would not prepare me for the physical meeting. They would only give me a picture that I can make better and better.

Nibbling some chips for my lunch. It's Family day here in Canada. Back to working on my follow up post.

Thanks everyone for engaging me in this discussion. Even the one's who don't.
A good learner is forever walking the narrow path between blindness and hallucination. ― Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm

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

#24 Post by John G » February 8th, 2016, 9:09 pm

I found these while doing a bit of research. Thought I would share.

"Illusion is the first of all pleasures." -- Voltaire

"Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." -- Alberta Einstein
A good learner is forever walking the narrow path between blindness and hallucination. ― Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm

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

#25 Post by Dave B » February 8th, 2016, 9:40 pm

Alberta Einstein?!

That must be a classic Canadian typo John :laughter:


Though I should bow to the great man he often, like the Oracle at Delphi, spoke in riddles. Can't quite untangle that string yet.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#26 Post by animist » February 8th, 2016, 10:03 pm

probably I have said this many times already on this forum, but the very notion of life as an illusion is an illusion in itself. For an illusion (an event) to take place requires, conceptually, that there is a reality which disproves the illusion. For life as a whole there can be no reality outside such a life, so life as a whole cannot be an illusion

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

#27 Post by Dave B » February 8th, 2016, 10:39 pm

animist wrote:probably I have said this many times already on this forum, but the very notion of life as an illusion is an illusion in itself. For an illusion (an event) to take place requires, conceptually, that there is a reality which disproves the illusion. For life as a whole there can be no reality outside such a life, so life as a whole cannot be an illusion
Like the idea of balance there, animist, that illusion cannot exist on its own, it needs the counterpoint of reality.

Hmm, does that also mean that reality needs the balancing effect of illusion? Or does it only work once way round? But, to the deluded reality, as we know it, is suspended. So what of delusion, even mass delusion?
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#28 Post by John G » February 8th, 2016, 11:25 pm

Dyslexia made me do it, rather than cut and paste. That and Alberta is where I spent more of my life.
Dave B wrote:Albert Einstein?! :redface:

That must be a classic Canadian typo John :laughter:


Though I should bow to the great man he often, like the Oracle at Delphi, spoke in riddles. Can't quite untangle that string yet.
Ya, I can't either. :) Great thing about oracle's they give you four answer to your question. Yes, No, maybe or all three or another question.

If I was to ponder a guess. I think he was looking forward to seeing his friend after his own death.

[Albert Einstein died a short time later. The quote was made to the family of a friend who had died. Some context.]
A good learner is forever walking the narrow path between blindness and hallucination. ― Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm

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

#29 Post by John G » February 8th, 2016, 11:34 pm

animist wrote:probably I have said this many times already on this forum, but the very notion of life as an illusion is an illusion in itself. For an illusion (an event) to take place requires, conceptually, that there is a reality which disproves the illusion. For life as a whole there can be no reality outside such a life, so life as a whole cannot be an illusion
Interesting. How about this then

We can hold a though that is not real. The process of creating a through is real. The though may not be. So reality can create illusions otherwise, we would not have fantasy literature as an example.

It is interesting to see the different takes on things. I do apologize. I did not start my research into this question with a search of this board. Actual this is working well for me. It is gathering ideas in one thread. I suspect I might be all over the place if I asked everywhere that I was curious. I do miss out though on those who are not participating in this thread. If anyone has a suggestion for where I might look please post. On the board, I am already looking on the web. But if you think a site might be of special interest by all means post it. Book too. All though they are a little more work to access.

[I often suffer from cross post disorder. Seem I am slow to post. This can sometimes lead to confusion.]
A good learner is forever walking the narrow path between blindness and hallucination. ― Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm

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

#30 Post by Dave B » February 9th, 2016, 8:07 am

John G wrote:Dyslexia made me do it, rather than cut and paste. That and Alberta is where I spent more of my life.
Dave B wrote:Albert Einstein?! :redface:

That must be a classic Canadian typo John :laughter:


Though I should bow to the great man he often, like the Oracle at Delphi, spoke in riddles. Can't quite untangle that string yet.
Ya, I can't either. :) Great thing about oracle's they give you four answer to your question. Yes, No, maybe or all three or another question.

If I was to ponder a guess. I think he was looking forward to seeing his friend after his own death.

[Albert Einstein died a short time later. The quote was made to the family of a friend who had died. Some context.]
Hah! I typoed as well, you called the great man "Alberta".

There still seems to be an arguement as to whether or not Albert was an atheist.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
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Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#31 Post by John G » February 9th, 2016, 11:42 am

Dave B wrote:
There still seems to be an argument as to whether or not Albert was an atheist.
I think he might say Yes, from what I have read I don't think he would say No. He might say you need to decide for yourself and then offer you data about the world to help you decide. His expert opinion as a physicist and his opinion as a human.
A good learner is forever walking the narrow path between blindness and hallucination. ― Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm

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

#32 Post by animist » February 9th, 2016, 4:38 pm

John G wrote:
animist wrote:probably I have said this many times already on this forum, but the very notion of life as an illusion is an illusion in itself. For an illusion (an event) to take place requires, conceptually, that there is a reality which disproves the illusion. For life as a whole there can be no reality outside such a life, so life as a whole cannot be an illusion
Interesting. How about this then

We can hold a though that is not real. The process of creating a through is real. The though may not be. So reality can create illusions otherwise, we would not have fantasy literature as an example.
sorry, I don't get this. A thought is a thought and is real in its own terms. Of course, not just fantasy literature but any fiction deals with imaginary characters and therefore with imaginary thoughts - is that what you mean? But in a sense the thoughts of an imaginary character are still real since they are in the writer's mind, aren't they?

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

#33 Post by animist » February 9th, 2016, 4:43 pm

Dave B wrote:
animist wrote:probably I have said this many times already on this forum, but the very notion of life as an illusion is an illusion in itself. For an illusion (an event) to take place requires, conceptually, that there is a reality which disproves the illusion. For life as a whole there can be no reality outside such a life, so life as a whole cannot be an illusion
Like the idea of balance there, animist, that illusion cannot exist on its own, it needs the counterpoint of reality.

Hmm, does that also mean that reality needs the balancing effect of illusion? Or does it only work once way round? But, to the deluded reality, as we know it, is suspended. So what of delusion, even mass delusion?
it only works one way since only people's minds (plus the minds of sentient animals) can make mistakes and have illusions. Dead matter is real but can't have illusions. Mass delusions do happen, eg the supposed sighting of the Virgin Mary at Fatima in Portugal - cannot remember when offhand, but it is a classic case of the fragility of religious experience as anything but illusion

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

#34 Post by John G » February 9th, 2016, 10:21 pm

Yes, that is how I see it. An illusion if you like is an idea that looks like it has a hight probability, but some set of conditions render the though as low probability. If we add more data about a though we can tell its an illusion. Our brains are smart sometimes too smart.

We can make stuff up, see a face in the crowd that is someone we know, but it turns out to be wrong. Witness testimony is often wrong. Our visual sense can be mislead as can all our senses. Put them all together and you have more data and a better idea. We tend to see something and think truth. But what you see is something with a probability of being true. Usually unit, but not always.

This same system also works for our intuition. Those leaps we make. We see only some small things but can make a big leaf that is often correct.

Dead matter is only concerned with being dead matter. Happy to be a rock. Early 1960 for the Fatima reference I think but that is just my brain trying to pull out a memory. Pictures of Jesus on toast are always turning up. Our brain is designed to do pattern recognition very well. Often to well if we suspend disbelief. Yup, religion is scary that way. How the heck do we know that Jesus looked like.

John Nash is a good example. He came to grips with his condition by rational thoughts. This does not stop the illusion from occurring. But we can make an informed choice about what we should do. Assuming were not to far down the rabbit hole.

Examples might be someone having paranoid thoughts. Only if they have proof is there any validity to the thought. Otherwise, it just noise in the works.

Thank you, your post helped clarify some things for me.
A good learner is forever walking the narrow path between blindness and hallucination. ― Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm

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

#35 Post by Compassionist » February 11th, 2016, 5:30 pm

John G, are you familiar with Simulation Hypothesis?

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

#36 Post by John G » February 12th, 2016, 7:33 am

Compassionist wrote:John G, are you familiar with Simulation Hypothesis?
This is the first time I have seen this wiki reference. Thank you. A simulation would be the ultimate Illusion. To the limits of our science, we can't find any evidence to support this hypothesis.

If it were true how would it affect individuals? Religious folks would be happy. Proof of a creator.
What about the atheist or agnostic?
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Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#37 Post by Dave B » February 12th, 2016, 8:01 am

John wrote
Religious folks would be happy. Proof of a creator. What about the atheist or agnostic?
From the pragmatic point of view this is still just a mind game, no bearing in the existential, in perceived the reality and, appears to answer no questions essential to life.

"Religious folks" are happy in their fantasy, adding another layer... i think the true atheist doesn't give a mouldy doughnut, except on the level of playing games, or watching "The Matrix" and appreciating it as a story (rather than a theory).

Agnostics seem to fall into two classes: those theists who claim that the nature of "God" cannot be known (classical meaning) and those who have not made up their mind whether or not there is a "God" (more common). Would the former even be bothered to add another layer of complexity to an admitted lack of knowledge and would not the latter just be even more confused?

I feel the hypothesis offers nothing to affect daily life, not much of a mind game, IMHO, either. :wink:
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Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#38 Post by John G » February 13th, 2016, 8:52 am

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

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

#39 Post by Dave B » February 13th, 2016, 9:38 am

John G wrote:Some science to chew on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YycAzdtUIko#t=394.376
Gave up 3/4 way through!

Ignoring that I don't like that style of presentation a lot of knowledge in the viewer seems to be assumed. If it was ihtended for the general public, as PBS is supposed to be, there are many more science and maths orientated people in the US than I have been led to believe!

Difficult subject, rocket science class, not a good presentation style, appeals to the "arguments" of the woo merchants IMHO - even if what was offered was correct.
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Re: How Do We Know That Life is Not an Illusion?

#40 Post by Compassionist » February 13th, 2016, 9:58 am

John G wrote:Some science to chew on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YycAzdtUIko#t=394.376
I liked it. Thank you for sharing the link.

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

#41 Post by Compassionist » February 13th, 2016, 10:03 am

John G wrote:
Compassionist wrote:John G, are you familiar with Simulation Hypothesis?
This is the first time I have seen this wiki reference. Thank you. A simulation would be the ultimate Illusion. To the limits of our science, we can't find any evidence to support this hypothesis.

If it were true how would it affect individuals? Religious folks would be happy. Proof of a creator.
What about the atheist or agnostic?
The problem with Simulation Hypothesis is that we can't test whether or not it is true. Hindus regard our perceived reality to be Maya or illusion.

I don't think religious people would indulge in thoughts about reality being a computer simulation - it is not compatible with the worldviews offered by the big religions i.e. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Taoism, Bahai Faith, Zoroastrianism, etc.

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