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Author Topic: on Nietzsche and more  (Read 355 times)
wicked insanity
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« on: 12/06/09 @ 21:52 »

Hi I haven't been on the site for a while but now that I have A2 Political and Nietzsche exams next Wednesday I have found the resources on here quite helpful. SO thanks, keep up the good work.
Just been browsing through some of the N topics in the forums, it's really hard stuff...

I would also like to add that somehow I managed (on the short walk back from college) to convince myself to believe that this isn't - i don't know what is but whatever this is it certainly isn't it.
I called it representationalism and a quick Google confirmed that such a theory already exists.
It took an almost transendental leap of faith to realise but now it's all so clear.

I think it's based on Descartes Cogito mixed in with The Matrix kind of theories.
I think now that yes i exist as in some form or another and what i percieve to be this is my representation of it.
Immediately i found a problem, either the whole universe as i know it, including all the beings in it are all part of my representation, OR all you other 'people' co-exist in a representation of space.
Now this depending on which way i choose has dramatic consequences. If then everything is the product of my representation then it doesn't matter about being nice, moral or ethical. It creates a licence of chaos. not good. So why then do we or i even bother being moral, so far all i can come up with is that you just have to play by the rules of the game! (it's a work in progress at the moment)
Why then am i trying to explain any of this if it doesn't really matter? well perhaps then going with the other idea in that every other being is still interacting in a community of representations we still need to be nice to each other. and i dont know whats on the other side of the real/representative fence (so be nice just incase).
I can imagine that reading this would sound odd as how can i tell you that your not 'real'? Well imagine it from my point of view... or from your own even, it's not hard to see that everything else doesn't have to exist as it does when you take the 'leap'.

I know this sounds crazy and i cant imagine myself believing in this nonsense only yesterday something just changed today, i dont know what.
Which brings me nicely to well if this isn't it, then what is? the answer we or i just cannot know. If you were in a sound proofed room with no external communication, how would you know what was goin on outside of it.
It helped me solve problems of infinites in the universe because a real infinty is hard to believe but its not really 'real, its just a respresentation which can take up an endless amount of space

Perhaps it might be an idea to consider it like a virtual space, like Second Life, or Home. The world in there is a representation of this all the people inside it and not all that real but they wouldn't know that!

If I have missed any thing out (im sure there are many things) or there is something you may wish to take issue with then i will gladly try to discuss it.
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Gareth Southwell
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« Reply #1 on: 13/06/09 @ 14:55 »

Hi WI,

As far as I can tell (and correct me if I'm wrong), you seem to have arrived at some version of representative realism - which is the most common position in philosophy as regards our relationship to the world/reality.

So, if I understand your point about "infinities" correctly, we do not experience 'real' infinity, but just a picture or representation of it. However - and this is the traditional problem for representationalism - how do I get beyond my own perceptions? In other words, if I only ever experience my own thoughts and images, how can I know (1) what the real world is like, or - more drastically - (2) whether or not such a real world exists?

Therefore, I seem to be stuck in solipsism - the belief that only I exist.

However, there are alternatives to this. Firstly, I might argue that, even though I do not experience the world directly (naive realism), what I do experience can be tested and verified. So, I may find out that there are certain regularities to my experience (e.g. shadows fall in a particular way, objects obey gravity, and so on). Of course, all these regularities might only be the rules of the 'game', but they do at least suggest that there are rules (and it is not random chaos). Also, if I act on the hypothesis that other people exist, and have experiences similar to mine, then I can also begin to compare different experiences and opinions, which in turn can be tested.

Ultimately, you may argue that none of these things can ultimately prove that there is a real world, or that it has a certain form, and that there is 'faith' required to go beyond the evidence of our perceptions. This is true, and in a way we can only ever have a sort of irrational belief in such a world. However, does this prove that the real world doesn't exist, and that we cannot know it? Or does it only prove that reason is an insufficient tool for knowledge of such a world, and that we also need a little faith, or a bit of intuition?

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wicked insanity
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« Reply #2 on: 13/06/09 @ 17:58 »

As I said, one cannot have any sensible contact and therefore justification to believe in the real/other world. and there is equally limited proof that it actually exists, but i find there is neither any more proof that this is the real world. But there is certainly a real world in some form and if i am sure that this isn't it then there must be another.
It is a very solpisistic view especially when using the universal theory as descartes suggested the only existence we can really be sure of is our own) but it could be possible to have a community of representations living together. Is solipsism such a bad thing anyway?

I am not quite sure what the point is you are trying to make about empirical testing, could you please explain? In a very wild view, any other representative universe may be nothing like this, perhaps light does bend and there is no gravity? but yes things in this representation obey the laws that govern them when is was created. Perhaps as with infinities, this helps to settle the problems in the beginning of time and pre-universe time. Although not fully resolving the problems, it does so for this universe as it just began before when this representation was set up. However that still leaves the obvious, what about then before all the representations were set up? again an infinite regress.

It would certainly be highly irrational for most people to believe in this but once you have taken the leap, it doesn't seem so unreasonable. Because we cannot sense or reason our way to have knowledge of the real world, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. There are many things deep in space or even here on earth that we thought were inconcievable once upon a time, like the Earth being flat!
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wicked insanity
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« Reply #3 on: 13/06/09 @ 18:07 »

I just had a thought, uh oh!
when i touch the table, the act of touching the table is still real in terms of this universe, basically what goes on in the representation is real in context of being part of the representation. But i guess ultimately it is not real, just a part of the representation. I think this leaves us to question our definition of real. or do we have two definitions, an absolute reality (which we cannot know) and a relative reality (stuff we know in the representation).
Perhaps it is like as quoted in the Matrix film, and apologies for generic nerd film trivia but "our mind makes it real", or is that something else altogether??

And one more thing, i imagine the real world to be bubbles (representations) floating in a void. I have know true justification of this, call it if you will, an artists' impression!
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Gareth Southwell
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« Reply #4 on: 14/06/09 @ 08:28 »

You make a number of points here, and some of them conflict, I think. You can't both argue that we only experience a representation of the real world, and then on the other hand say that we have no proof that the real world exists. For a representation must be a representation of something - i.e. there must be something it refers to (represents), otherwise it is not a representation.

So, it seems you have two options - and I'm not quite sure which one you want to argue for. Either (1) Representationalism: there is a real world, but because we only experience a representation of it, we cannot know what it is like, or (2) Solipsism: there may be no such thing as a real world, or at the very least we cannot know that it exists.

If we end up with (2), then we have big problems, for we have no way of telling between what is true for me, and what is true for everyone. For instance, if I see a cat enter a room, and then it seems to disappear, how do I know the truth? What is true for me (my experience) is that I saw a cat and now it's gone. What I would normally do is look for an explanation that fit with general experience (mine and others'), but if my experience is only true for me, then I have no way of knowing what 'true' means. It might be that, in my universe (the only one that exists, as far as I know), cats simply disappear - or perhaps, sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. In other words, if I'm a solipsist, then I may as well be dreaming the whole time - weird random things may happen, because there is nothing external to my perceptions to guarantee that there is some underlying law or regularity. Basically, I cannot check my experiences against reality, because the only reality that exists is my own experiences! So, that's what's wrong with solipsism!

As for empirically testing, I just mean that I check my experiences against reality, or against other perceptions of it. So, the cat goes into the room, but then seems to disappear. However, from my other experiences, I have come to believe that cats don't just disappear, so there must be some other explanation (the cat is hiding, it left via the window, it sneaked past me without me noticing, and so on). As you point out, this doesn't give us ultimate proof, but it does at least suggest that there are some laws or rules which are independent of our experiences. We could of course argue that we are making up these rules as we go along, but the more complicated they become, and the more we find out things that we couldn't have created (or weren't aware of creating), such as maths and scientific principles, etc., then the more likely it seems that there is something which is independent of us.

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wicked insanity
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« Reply #5 on: 14/06/09 @ 10:33 »

I appreciate there may be some conflicting arguments in there but I haven't fully developed it yet, i'm still thinking about it as I'm going along. I thought that debating ideas with others would help me to tidy up my beliefs.
In regards to your first point, i was referring to it in a normal persons view of its existence. i have no arguable proof the other world exists. But if for arguments sake this is a representation then yes there must be a real world by definition for it to be represented of.

Of the two choices suggested i think 1 is the more preferable.

But either way we cant testify our experiences against the real world. The only viable solution i thought of was that the truth in the representation is true in context. There are seemingly two distinct levels of truth.
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Gareth Southwell
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« Reply #6 on: 14/06/09 @ 10:42 »

Please don't misinterpret me, I'm not attacking you for not knowing what you think! I realise that debating things helps to bring out what you think, so I was merely doing that. My apologies if it came across slightly aggressively - it wasn't meant to.  Smiley

If we accept solipsism (2), then it seems to me that we give up any possibility of proving that there is an independent reality (that is what solipsism means). So, if we go with (2) as a possibility, then we are left with finding out (a) what that independent world is like (if it corresponds to our perceptions, and how), and (b) how we can prove that (what it is like, and how it corresponds). If we stick with (b) for the moment, then my argument was that we look for aspects of our experience which seem to suggest some form of regularity (i.e. rules and laws which seem to shape our experience, and so suggest that there is something independent of us that is influencing that experience). Is this what you mean by things being 'true in context'? Perhaps you could expand.
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wicked insanity
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« Reply #7 on: 14/06/09 @ 10:56 »

Oh no I was thinking anything of the sort, i didn't find the comments offensive in anyway.

Well the proof of its existence provided we accept that this is a representation is, as we said, almost inherent by definition.

If i explain it like this, it might make this better... When i look at the tree outside, i see the tree as it is, not something which i think corresponds to a tree, the 'representation' is the whole universe.
We still have the problems of how do i know it's not an illusion, well provided we can assume it is  a normal tree then all is fine. Or as i proposed when i touch the table, i AM touching the table in the representation. I am not quite sure other than that how to illustrate my thoughts with words, sorry.

SO of cause things will adhere to governing rules and regularities. It wouldn't be much of a representation if it didn't! Perhaps then a 'representation' is the wrong word, it might bring up grammatical misinterpretations.
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« Reply #8 on: 14/06/09 @ 10:59 »

I think I'm starting to see what you're getting at now. The tree is not real because it corresponds to a real tree which exists beyond our perceptions, but rather because of some quality which the perception has relative to other perceptions - is that right?
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« Reply #9 on: 14/06/09 @ 11:04 »

no sorry that's not quite what i had in mind (that is if i understood it right even).
any other comments on the theory? we can come back to this i think once i understand my own beliefs a bit more.
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« Reply #10 on: 14/06/09 @ 11:09 »

Maybe what I have said is a consequence of the view that you are expressing, but you don't think of it in that way.

Going back to your earlier comment ("the representation is the whole universe") - this is idealism. It is the idea that everything which we perceive (and could possibly think about) is everything that exists. So, the 'representation' is the real thing, and not anything which exists independently from it. As you say, if we accept this, then perhaps 'representation' is the wrong word.

This isn't solipsism, but rather a way of doing away with the gap between perception and reality (by saying that perception IS reality).

Is that it?
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« Reply #11 on: 14/06/09 @ 13:06 »

continuing from that, i think within the confines of the representation, perception is real. Like in a video game, my character is walking around doing what ever he does, for him that is real in terms of the context of the game but outside of it, which is unpercievable from the inside, things are different.
For the character or being in the representation, all he perceives is real but when viewed from outside the representation world all it not as it seems.
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« Reply #12 on: 15/06/09 @ 08:06 »

Ah, I see. But then how do you know what the world outside of the perceptions is like? Or even that it is different from your perceptions? Perhaps what you are calling a 'game' is in fact reality?
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« Reply #13 on: 15/06/09 @ 08:25 »

We cannot know what the world outside the representation is like! as I have said before, there is little more proof to suggest that this is real or not. (Descartes). what goes on in the representation is real enough for whoever is in it. But the real world i think might be something like bubbles floating around in emptiness. Though that is just speculation, i have no genuine argument for what it is like.
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« Reply #14 on: 15/06/09 @ 08:34 »

Fair enough. This is actually similar to Kant's position: we experience the world in a way which is real to us, but the world as it really is cannot be experienced, so we don't know what it's like.

The problem with this is that, as you admit, there is no proof that (a) there is a perception independent world, and that (b) we can know what it's like. A sceptic would ask, "Why bubbles? Why not some other form of organisation?" In other words, the position is what is called a metaphysical one: it assumes something that it cannot prove. Someone like Nietzsche would therefore ask why you chose this view (since there is no evidence for it) - what is influencing you to adopt this picture of reality?
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