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2321Conceivability of Mind-Independent Reality
- Jan 16, 2003
On Monday, January 13, 2003 1:20 PM Rachel Seabrook wrote:
OK, I know that the only thing I can be certain of is that I exist. I
don't actually know that there are other minds out there responding to
my ramblings. You don't know that these words were written by a person
in any sense separate from yourself. They might be the product of your
own fevered imagination (how unfortunate for you). But does
inscrutability imply non-existence? Are we forced into solipsism?
Not admitting the possibility of the existence of the inconceivable
seems vaguely arrogant to me. Why should the world be knowable? In my
world-view, my sensory experiences are the results of other,
in-principle-unknowable events. These events (or other, similarly
unknowable events) would still occur even if I was not present. Can
anyone persuade me that this is wrong?
Most scientists appear to be realists. They believe that there is a
concrete, objective 3-dimensional world "out there" waiting to be
investigated. There are perhaps a few true solipsists who believe that
nothing *at all* exists other than the self. I believe, however, that
reality has both objective and subjective elements.
It seems to me that all conscious perceptions must be regarded as subjective
occurrences; the very existence of these phenomena depends on the existence
of the consciousness that is experiencing them.
Some philosophers do not acknowledge the existence of non-physical
consciousness. They believe that there is a *concretely* existing, objective
world, and that there is no place for anything non-physical in that world.
I believe that reality does indeed have objective aspects that can be
described scientifically/mathematically. However, in my view, the realist's
view that there is a *concrete* objective world out there is incorrect. It
seems to me that we need a far more *subtle* conception of what is
A "concrete entity," by definition, has concrete (i.e., definite) values for
*all* its attributes simultaneously. However, according to quantum theory, a
"quantum entity" (whether microscopic or macroscopic), never has concrete
values for *all* its attributes. (An entity with a definite position, for
example, necessarily has indefinite momentum.) If my definition above of a
"concrete entity" is valid, we must conclude that there is no *concrete*
The 3-dimensional, phenomenal images that a mind "sees" (i.e., experiences)
are subjective experiences that exist *within* one's phenomenal
consciousness. These 3-dimensional images appear to posses both definite
position and velocity simultaneously. But these concrete, virtual images
cannot be regarded as proof of a concretely existing, *objective* world.
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