15 thoughts on “Do we really see reality?

    • I liked that he seemed to say that logic (and presumably math) were better indicators of truth than empiricism. It is funny, I never doubted empiricism (undergrad, grad) but now think it is one of the weakest forms of knowledge we have. At least of the “really real” or noumena.

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  1. Hi glauconsjournal01,
    I like and respect your thinking a lot. You are one of the best thinkers I have found on the internet
    I ask these questions because this is my way of communication and to dig deeper.

    You wrote, ” For example, the thing that is the origin for what I perceive to be a tree.”
    I have a vague suspicion that Buddhists and Advaitins (nondualists) perhaps say that there is no such thing as noumenon and that tree is being made up by your own mind only. This is only my suspicion but I really do not know if they say this. Do you know what they say?

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    • Sorry – one other thing – I read once where Alan Watts said something akin to “Subjects and objects are grammatical concepts but that does not mean that they exist in the real world. Yes, they exist in grammar but perhaps they only exist there as a matter of convenience.”

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    • Thank you for your kind comments. If you ever make your way to Seattle, just tell me and I will buy you lunch or a cup of coffee.

      You know, I have deep interest in Vivekananda and have tried to get through his collected works and especially his Jnana yoga book but I struggle with it. I have a close scholarly friend who is Indian (and used to teach at Carnegie Mellon) and we discuss Advaita fairly regularly. The issue is that I feel like I am missing some of the cultural context of Vivekananda’s views – having only a high level knowledge of the Gita and other “must-know” texts. Someone like Plotinus (who seems closer to Ramanuja than Shankara) comes easy to me but the Indian philosophy I have tried to wade through is difficult and references allusions of which I am unfamiliar. Now, if there were a contemporary Advaitist who spoke more in Western philosophical terms then I would love to be introduced to that work. But for now, the closest I have come is Houston Smith, Aldous Huxley, and even Alan Watts in explaining that world view.

      There is a part of me that thinks that contemporary science could very well reconcile with an Advaitst world view where consciousness is primary and all else (including matter) emerges from that.

      Again, thank you for your insights and civility.

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  2. Thank you for your kind comments. If you ever make your way to Seattle, just tell me and I will buy you lunch or a cup of coffee.

    You know, I have deep interest in Vivekananda and have tried to get through his collected works and especially his Jnana yoga book but I struggle with it. I have a close scholarly friend who is Indian (and used to teach at Carnegie Mellon) and we discuss Advaita fairly regularly. The issue is that I feel like I am missing some of the cultural context of Vivekananda’s views – having only a high level knowledge of the Gita and other “must-know” texts. Someone like Plotinus (who seems closer to Ramanuja than Shankara) comes easy to me but the Indian philosophy I have tried to wade through is difficult and references allusions of which I am unfamiliar. Now, if there were a contemporary Advaitist who spoke more in Western philosophical terms then I would love to be introduced to that work. But for now, the closest I have come is Houston Smith, Aldous Huxley, and even Alan Watts in explaining that world view.

    There is a part of me that thinks that contemporary science could very well reconcile with an Advaitst world view where consciousness is primary and all else (including matter) emerges from that.

    Again, thank you for your insights and civility.

    Like

  3. Thanks glauconsjournal01.

    You wrote, “I read once where Alan Watts said something akin to “Subjects and objects are grammatical concepts but that does not mean that they exist in the real world. Yes, they exist in grammar but perhaps they only exist there as a matter of convenience.”

    What does Alan Watts say exist in the real world?

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  4. I would like to ask you about ontological perspectivism:

    What is ontological perspectivism:-

    Ontological perspectivism is the view that reality is the very relation to or perspective
    on otherwise undifferentiated surroundings.

    1. Here reality means what is the result of the perception or cognition of the subject, i.e. tables, chairs, mountains and stars etc.

    2. When a subject perceives or experiences noumenon, he does not experience what is actually there but only that part or aspect of noumenon which his cognitive faculties can grasp.

    A thought experiment: There is a white paper on which no. 7423 is written. 7 is written in blue, 4 in yellow, 2 in red and 3 in green. Now imagine a subject who can only see what is written in red. So this subject when asked to tell what no. is written on the paper, will reply 2. Now if we consider no.7423 as what is really there (noumenon), and no. 2 as what is perceived or experienced by this subject (phenomenon), then would you say that the subject is having the actual experience of noumenon? Is cognizing 7423 as 2 an actual *experience* of 7423?

    “Phenomenal reality” is a misleading word for the false understanding of the subject, and this false understanding is part of the subject and is in the subject and can not be another separate reality outside of the subject . Your understanding is part of you and is not outside of you.
    So all what we are perceiving or experiencing is a distorted, false and misleading representation of noumenon presented to us by our limited faculties of cognition.

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    • I like this approach – help me to understand it a bit better as it usually takes me a while.

      From the last paragraph, would you say that the objects of our knowledge can only be our ideas of the outside world? I think this is a central question and the way in which we answer it determines next steps in the development of the framework.

      The thought experiment is a good one, and helpful. One starts to wonder if we can say anything about the noumenon at all – at least as we purport to understand it from our senses.

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  5. It is really rewarding to converse with a person like you. This sort of exchange helps me to think more clearly, thank you for that.

    You wrote, “From the last paragraph, would you say that the objects of our knowledge can only be our ideas of the outside world?”
    I am not very clear what you mean, can you enlarge upon your question? I would for now just say to ask yourself that why do you perceive what you do perceive instead of perceiving something else, or why do you get the ideas you do get instead of some other ideas.

    When I look out of the window and think that I am perceiving a mountain, then actually this mountain is not the object of my perception but the end result of my perception i.e. it is the percept . The object of my perception is noumenon which my cognitive faculties present to me as the mountain. My cognitive faculties include not only my senses but also my mind etc. I think that it is here where empiricism, science and non idealist Western philosophy go wrong. I hope that this point is clear, please let me know.

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    • I think I can follow your train of thought. I’m wondering if it cannot even go a step further.

      Like you said, let’s assert that the percept is in part a result of some type of limited and incomplete external stimulus. That seems easily defendable. My recognition of color would be quite different from someone who is color blind or someone with tetrachormacy.

      It might even get more interesting. Our cognitive facilities come in to play, as you mentioned. The percept is made up of the external stimulus and these internal facilities. Now, these facilities are qualitative and unique. I’d reference someone like Merleau-Ponty when we talk about what is really going on when we perceive even mundane external objects. There is much more taking place than a simple restatement of the external world. We load that experience with meaning and presuppositions. My “mountain” is not your “mountain” in our experience.

      Even language comes into play (that object out there is a “mountain” and not a “hill”). We also think to ourselves in language so we are already categorizing and separating out the experience into distinct pieces. I continue to wonder how our experience of the world would differ if we were raised centuries ago with Sanskrit as our primary language, if we were born in pre-Aristotelian times, or if we spoke and thought in aboriginal languages. I’d suggest our language even has some small effect on our notion of time.

      I think it is very easy to see how the scientific and purely empirical (naive realism) approach is limited. What I struggle with in Idealism is the notion of shared experience but am unclear on even how to frame the issue. Perhaps it is a non-issue.

      [At some point I would like to visit the notion of “external stimulus” because I seem to be drifting towards some type of monism or at least a worldview where something like consciousness must be foundational in metaphysics.]

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  6. I think I can follow your train of thought. I’m wondering if it cannot even go a step further.

    Like you said, let’s assert that the percept is in part a result of some type of limited and incomplete external stimulus. That seems easily defendable. My recognition of color would be quite different from someone who is color blind or someone with tetrachormacy.

    It might even get more interesting. Our cognitive facilities come in to play, as you mentioned. The percept is made up of the external stimulus and these internal facilities. Now, these facilities are qualitative and unique. I’d reference someone like Merleau-Ponty when we talk about what is really going on when we perceive even mundane external objects. There is much more taking place than a simple restatement of the external world. We load that experience with meaning and presuppositions. My “mountain” is not your “mountain” in our experience.

    Even language comes into play (that object out there is a “mountain” and not a “hill”). We also think to ourselves in language so we are already categorizing and separating out the experience into distinct pieces. I continue to wonder how our experience of the world would differ if we were raised centuries ago with Sanskrit as our primary language, if we were born in pre-Aristotelian times, or if we spoke and thought in aboriginal languages. I’d suggest our language even has some small effect on our notion of time.

    I think it is very easy to see how the scientific and purely empirical (naive realism) approach is limited. What I struggle with in Idealism is the notion of shared experience but am unclear on even how to frame the issue. Perhaps it is a non-issue.

    [At some point I would like to visit the notion of “external stimulus” because I seem to be drifting towards some type of monism or at least a worldview where something like consciousness must be foundational in metaphysics.]

    Like

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