If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it still exist?

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Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 09:28 am
I find the traditional question quite interesting, just because there are so many ways to think about it. I tend to think of most things in the most abstract way possible, so I ask now, if we can't see, hear, or otherwise perceive something in the present moment, can we ever be truly certain that it's still there?

Right now, my computer, my window, and my backyard are all in my field of vision. How can I possibly know that my bathroom, kitchen, and front yard are still where I remember them to be?

I know this is a completely pointless question, but it's fun to think about nonetheless Smile
 
de budding
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 10:13 am
@dharma bum,
Can we ever be truly certain of somethings existence even if we can see, hear or otherwise perceive it?

Doubt, doubt and doubt some more.

Regards,
Dan.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 10:14 am
@dharma bum,
dharma_bum;76809 wrote:
I find the traditional question quite interesting, just because there are so many ways to think about it. I tend to think of most things in the most abstract way possible, so I ask now, if we can't see, hear, or otherwise perceive something in the present moment, can we ever be truly certain that it's still there?

Right now, my computer, my window, and my backyard are all in my field of vision. How can I possibly know that my bathroom, kitchen, and front yard are still where I remember them to be?

I know this is a completely pointless question, but it's fun to think about nonetheless Smile


We know it since we can know indirectly as well as directly. I can know that it snowed overnight because when I went to sleep in the morning there was no snow on the ground, and when I awoke this morning, the ground was covered with snow. Furthermore, the weather forecasters warned of snow. If there were no kitchen, or bathroom, etc. The rest of the house would collapse, for one thing.
 
xris
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 10:16 am
@de budding,
Sorry folks but you are figment of my PC irrational behaviour,if you talk to me nicely i wont turn it off.xris
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 10:17 am
@de budding,
de_budding;76818 wrote:
Can we ever be truly certain of somethings existence even if we can see, hear or otherwise perceive it?

Doubt, doubt and doubt some more.

Regards,
Dan.


If you mean by "certain" without the possibility of error, probably not. But if you mean just "know", well yes, of course. We don't have to be certain in order to know. Science gives us a lot of knowledge without certainty. Everyone would say that we know a lot more today than we did 100 years ago. And most of the knowledge comes from science. You would not say that we do not know more today than we did 100 years ago, would you?
 
de budding
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 10:42 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;76821 wrote:
If you mean by "certain" without the possibility of error, probably not. But if you mean just "know", well yes, of course. We don't have to be certain in order to know. Science gives us a lot of knowledge without certainty. Everyone would say that we know a lot more today than we did 100 years ago. And most of the knowledge comes from science. You would not say that we do not know more today than we did 100 years ago, would you?


Equally though, we could all be inside the matrix, or the test subjects of a mad scientist.

However, I do agree. The scientific method is a solid way of 'knowing' something. If when I drop a stone from my bedroom window it always falls, and if others can come watch and confirm that it is also what they perceive, then we can at least say that we know if we drop what we call a stone from what we call a window it will do what we call falling. But, I do think that all such knowledge and the subsequent model of reality which we all have in our heads - for it is indeed only in your head - is only relative to actuality/reality (or whatever you want to call the raw state of everything.) For, all our senses are merely analogues used to extract some data which our minds interpret electronically and then represent as colors, sounds or tastes.

As smooth as your experience of life is, it is all composed of discrete snippets of information, sampled from reality and interpreted in your head... dude.
:flowers:

Dan.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 10:47 am
@de budding,
de_budding;76824 wrote:
Equally though, we could all be inside the matrix, or the test subjects of a mad scientist.


Dan.


And, if my grandmother had wheels, she would be a bicycle. But there really is no reason to think my grandmother has wheels. In fact, there is a lot of reason to think she does not.
 
dharma bum
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 10:58 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;76821 wrote:
If you mean by "certain" without the possibility of error, probably not. But if you mean just "know", well yes, of course. We don't have to be certain in order to know. Science gives us a lot of knowledge without certainty. Everyone would say that we know a lot more today than we did 100 years ago. And most of the knowledge comes from science. You would not say that we do not know more today than we did 100 years ago, would you?


To clarify, I mean 'know' as in completely certain.

And to be honest, in a way I DON'T think that we 'know' more than we did 100 years ago. Or even 1000 years ago. Science, in my opinion, can't prove anything. It can only make educated guesswork.

If I drop a ball 100 times and it falls downward each time, I can't be entirely sure that it will fall the same direction the 101st time. All practical reason and common sense would tell me that it will, but there will always be the doubt of reason. In fact, I wouldn't be able to be completely certain that the ball I'm dropping is even there.

My main problem with science, even though I will admit that it's useful, is that it's always too sure of itself. People hear "scientifically proven" and they automatically accept it as absolute fact.

At times I almost think that science will never make any form of progress at life's tough questions in the long run. Who's to say that, in 500 years, everything we think we know now won't be completely disproven and that people will look back and think "How stupid were these guys to think that diseases were caused by virus's and bacteria?" Smile
 
de budding
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 12:55 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;76826 wrote:
And, if my grandmother had wheels, she would be a bicycle. But there really is no reason to think my grandmother has wheels. In fact, there is a lot of reason to think she does not.


I don't really follow. >.>
Dan.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 01:33 pm
@de budding,
de_budding;76847 wrote:
I don't really follow. >.>
Dan.


It is an analogy with your, we could be in a matrix.

---------- Post added 07-12-2009 at 03:44 PM ----------

dharma_bum;76827 wrote:
To clarify, I mean 'know' as in completely certain.

And to be honest, in a way I DON'T think that we 'know' more than we did 100 years ago. Or even 1000 years ago. Science, in my opinion, can't prove anything. It can only make educated guesswork.

If I drop a ball 100 times and it falls downward each time, I can't be entirely sure that it will fall the same direction the 101st time. All practical reason and common sense would tell me that it will, but there will always be the doubt of reason. In fact, I wouldn't be able to be completely certain that the ball I'm dropping is even there.

My main problem with science, even though I will admit that it's useful, is that it's always too sure of itself. People hear "scientifically proven" and they automatically accept it as absolute fact.

At times I almost think that science will never make any form of progress at life's tough questions in the long run. Who's to say that, in 500 years, everything we think we know now won't be completely disproven and that people will look back and think "How stupid were these guys to think that diseases were caused by virus's and bacteria?" Smile


That we might be mistaken is no reason to think we are mistaken, and if we are not mistaken, then we do know that disease is caused by viruses and bacteria. So, that we might be mistaken is no reason to think that we do not know that disease is caused by viruses and bacteria. Or, to put it a little differently, that we are not absolutely certain does not imply that we do not know.

If we do not know more than we did 100 years ago, then we know nothing, and that is just the same old skepticism which assumes that unless we are infallible, we do not know. And there is no good argument I know of for that strange view. You can mean what you like by "know" even that knowledge is a poached egg. But that does not mean that knowledge is a poached egg, and that you mean by "know" "certain" is no reason to think that knowledge is certainty. There is, as I said, (1) no good argument for that view, and, (2) that science does not give us knowledge, which seems to me absurd. It would be like saying that red is not the color of (oxygenated) blood. And if red is not the color of blood then nothing is red. And if science does no give us knowledge, then there is no knowledge.

So, the question is this: is it more likely that knowledge is certainty, or that we know nothing, and science does not give us knowledge? What do you think?
 
de budding
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 02:18 pm
@dharma bum,
As in: just because something could be, it is no reason to think it is?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 02:21 pm
@de budding,
de_budding;76861 wrote:
As in: just because something could be, it is no reason to think it is?


Yes, indeed! And I have to lengthen my message.
 
pagan
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 05:22 pm
@kennethamy,
Quote:
If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it still exist?
Well of course if by existence we mean actual in the now perception, then no. But what that reveals is what we dont mean by exist, because in some other sense the tree does exist as a direct assumption of the question itself. Or in other words, "is there a sense in which the word existence cannot be used to an unpercieved object that could be percieved if a being were close enough to have percieved it"?

This is semantics surely? After all the natural way to ask the question is "If a tree exists in the forest and falls down and nobody hears it, does it still exist?" well yes obviously since the question cannot be considered meaningful unless we accept the first four words of the question to be true.

Surely the real question is "can anything exist outside the mind?"
 
dharma bum
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 05:36 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;76851 wrote:


And if red is not the color of blood then nothing is red. And if science does no give us knowledge, then there is no knowledge.

So, the question is this: is it more likely that knowledge is certainty, or that we know nothing, and science does not give us knowledge? What do you think?


Well, if you think about it, the color of blood is NOT red. The color of blood is red to 'normal' human eyes. The color of blood certainly isn't red for a completely colorblind person.

In other words, we can only be sure of something based on our perception. We can never be sure that the way we perceive something is correct.

If a completely alien creature that had none of the human's five senses "looked" at blood, red wouldn't be anywhere close to a characteristic of it.
 
Neil D
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 06:44 pm
@kennethamy,
If a man says something in the woods, and there is no woman around to hear it. Is he still wrong?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 06:50 pm
@dharma bum,
dharma_bum;76888 wrote:
Well, if you think about it, the color of blood is NOT red. The color of blood is red to 'normal' human eyes. The color of blood certainly isn't red for a completely colorblind person.

In other words, we can only be sure of something based on our perception. We can never be sure that the way we perceive something is correct.

If a completely alien creature that had none of the human's five senses "looked" at blood, red wouldn't be anywhere close to a characteristic of it.



That is what we mean when we say that the color of blood is red. That if a person with normal faculties observes red in normal conditions, then it is red. Color-blind people do not have normal faculties. I don't know what you mean by "sure". If you mean, "absolutely certain without the possibility of error" I agree with you. If you mean just "know" then I disagree with you. We do know that the color of blood is red, even if it is possible to be mistaken, just as long as we are not mistaken. And we are not.

I don't know about alien creatures. What I said is that to say that the color of blood is red is to say that blood appears red to human beings who have normal faculties, under normal circumstances.

---------- Post added 07-12-2009 at 08:55 PM ----------

pagan;76886 wrote:
Well of course if by existence we mean actual in the now perception, then no. But what that reveals is what we dont mean by exist, because in some other sense the tree does exist as a direct assumption of the question itself. Or in other words, "is there a sense in which the word existence cannot be used to an unpercieved object that could be percieved if a being were close enough to have percieved it"?

This is semantics surely? After all the natural way to ask the question is "If a tree exists in the forest and falls down and nobody hears it, does it still exist?" well yes obviously since the question cannot be considered meaningful unless we accept the first four words of the question to be true.

Surely the real question is "can anything exist outside the mind?"


If that is the real question, then surely the answer is, yes. For example, the head exists outside the mind, since the mind is contained in the head.

Actually, the classic question is whether if a tree falls in an uninhabited forest, does it make a sound. I don't know how the question of the tree's existence got mixed up into it. And of course, you are right, since whether the tree exists is already answered by the formation of the question. People just get mixed up about this.
 
ValueRanger
 
Reply Sun 12 Jul, 2009 08:17 pm
@dharma bum,
Topographical set in a needs matrix: what need level does the "tree falling in forest" data set, sequitur to in my current and future potential trajectories?
 
pagan
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 04:15 am
@kennethamy,
hi Smile

kennethamy;76903 wrote:


If that is the real question, then surely the answer is, yes. For example, the head exists outside the mind, since the mind is contained in the head.



uh...... well actually it does make sense that the head does not exist! If you look you can see this clearly. Not for the faint hearted though. So perhaps i shouldn't have mentioned it. If you are interested there is a great little book called "on having no head" and the authors surname is harding i think. ...... But it isnt for the faint hearted.

Incidentally, by logic, if the mind is contained in the head then the mind is absolutely huge. The size of a lanscape, as far as the stars. Which is almost the same as seeing that you haven't got a head if you think about it, bar a few semantic quibbles. But go careful! This stuff is amazing and can bring about extreme reactions such as catatonic states, hysteria, laughter, tears, meglomania and so on. All very zen. ...... and dont panic. The mind will bring you back to common sense if you do experience no head, and all is mundane and hunky dory again. Except that it isnt Smile

But going back to the question whether anything can exist outside of the mind. It is this question that highlights the amazing discovery of the unconscious. We now have more possibilities since Freud.

a the tree falls outside of minds whether they hear it or not.

b the tree falls outside of the conscious mind whether it is heard or not, but does not exist outside of mind generally.

c the tree only falls when in the conscious mind irrespective of its existence in the unconscious mind or outside of mind altogether.

In other words the roots of the trees existence now has three possible realms. Is it a matter of urgency to know which one is 'true'?
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 06:02 am
@pagan,
I can remember as a child hearing these questions and pondering whether the world disappears or not when you shut your eyes,as a six year old i tried for ages to open my eyes quickly enough to see if I was quicker than it could return.
In reality these questions are just as childish, discount the ego and who gives a dam.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 07:27 am
@pagan,
pagan;76955 wrote:
hi Smile



uh...... well actually it does make sense that the head does not exist! If you look you can see this clearly. Not for the faint hearted though. So perhaps i shouldn't have mentioned it. If you are interested there is a great little book called "on having no head" and the authors surname is harding i think. ...... But it isnt for the faint hearted.

Incidentally, by logic, if the mind is contained in the head then the mind is absolutely huge. The size of a lanscape, as far as the stars. Which is almost the same as seeing that you haven't got a head if you think about it, bar a few semantic quibbles. But go careful! This stuff is amazing and can bring about extreme reactions such as catatonic states, hysteria, laughter, tears, meglomania and so on. All very zen. ...... and dont panic. The mind will bring you back to common sense if you do experience no head, and all is mundane and hunky dory again. Except that it isnt Smile

But going back to the question whether anything can exist outside of the mind. It is this question that highlights the amazing discovery of the unconscious. We now have more possibilities since Freud.

a the tree falls outside of minds whether they hear it or not.

b the tree falls outside of the conscious mind whether it is heard or not, but does not exist outside of mind generally.

c the tree only falls when in the conscious mind irrespective of its existence in the unconscious mind or outside of mind altogether.

In other words the roots of the trees existence now has three possible realms. Is it a matter of urgency to know which one is 'true'?


Never mind about the "roots of the trees existence" whatever that might be. How about the roots of the tree itself? Don't they exist? If not, how did the tree ever grow?
 
 

 
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