Sunday, May 31, 2015

Speculations on the Nature of Reality

 Viewpoints: Speculations on the Nature of Reality


“It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.” (Thoreau)

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” (Einstein)


2/20/04                  re the principles of viewpoint theory
First Principle: We see (perceive) by means of heredity and learning;

Second Principle: Perception is complete: there is only inference beyond it;

Third Principle: You cannot see where or what you are: you were 'there' and were 'that' (in the immediate 'past') or will be (in the immediate 'future')---that is, in memory or anticipation. Nor can you perceive what 'was' or 'will be', except in memory or anticipation. That is, you are forever operating in the immediate past or future, 'seeing' only 'what was' or 'what will be', and therefore 'driving from the rearview mirror' or seeing ahead in anticipation from the immediate memories of 'what-was';

Fourth Principle: recursivity governs (describes) succession. No matter how little change there is from moment to moment, there is some, and this change permits 'time' to 'pass'. Subjective 'time' is thus 'succession' and is therefore a creature-event, a perceptual event, a viewpoint (or aspect of a viewpoint).  (see Mind Time, by Benjamin Libet, 2004);

Fifth Principle: ‘Knowledge’ is what is perceived and believed. 'Belief' is stable ideation over 'time'—i.e., successive ideas that appear similar and which 'make sense' (i.e., fit with major prior beliefs);

Sixth Principle: 'Language' and 'imagination' transcend (release us from) perception, creating 'time' (past and future) and allowing/requiring generalization (e.g.,categories and hierarchies);

Seventh Principle: With language and the ability to represent, generalize, and classify comes 'error', since any deviation from an expected event introduces 'error'---i.e., deviation from the 'desired', from 'the reference signal' (see W.F. Powers, Behavior: the Control of Perception, 1973). We know 'in particular'---in direct sensory experience---and when we represent, generalize, and classify (through language) we simplify and categorize, and by collecting such simplifications/generalizations together we lose much of the special qualities of the particular. 'Metaphor' becomes our way of representing meaning and understanding, and the particular experience disappears within the generalization or the classification or the metaphor. 'Art' is born;'art' and 'error' offer much to each other, for they are the same thing seen from different viewpoints. Any deviation from a desired state---any 'error signal'---can itself become a desired state: an 'error' can be a new 'appreciation'. (e.g., 'play' and 'fantasy'.) The introduction of 'representation' (through language) leads to generalization and then to classification. (cf. Vaihinger, 1925; Hayek, 1952)
     Soon after we have '1' we have '2', and by the perceptual operation of comparison we create categories of similar 'things'. So from '1' and '2' we get 'numbers', and from 'I' (or 'me') we get 'we' (or 'us'). The door is opened for endless iterations of individual qualities and experiences, and with language ('representation') we can create new 'things', each a category of other individual things.  'Names' (conceptual categories) now represent 'things', and become 'things' themselves. 'Error' is introduced at each iteration of categorization, and becomes an art form in itself, a 'thing' to be played with and manipulated by 'imagination'. We no longer 'know' what is 'good'; we only 'know what we prefer', a grounding in our particular valuations which returns us, recursively but definitely, to our individual experience;

Eighth Principle: 'Relationship' is the only reality we can 'know', for we only 'know' something in its relationships to and comparisons with other things.


                            Outline of Viewpoint Theory:

(1) We create our own reality. If conscious awareness is a product of the CNS, the reality we experience is a product of that product. When we 'die'---cease to function as creatures---that created reality ceases to 'be'.

(2) Given our particular circumstances, we are each doing the 'best' we can at all times. This follows from (1), for 'the best we can' is the product of that CNS---i.e., they are the only reactions and actions we can produce at that moment. If we could do other than what we see, think, and do we would 'be' another creature. 'Best' means 'only', for what we deem to be 'choices' are only our understanding of and strategies for achieving our goals, and all of them--understandings, strategies, and goals---are products of 'who we are'---i.e., of what we have inherited and learned ('become') over our lifetime.

(3) (1) + (2) imply that what we see, think, and do result from our viewpoint, our moment-by-moment awareness of the world created by our CNS, an awareness shaped by what our biological structure and history of experiences have evolved to produce.  “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree”.

(4) (1) + (2) + (3) imply that we learn to see and react as we do, mediated by how our particular CNS has developed on a biological level over our lifetime as a living creature.

(5) A major consequence of (1) + (2) + (3) + (4) is that we, as biological creatures, react only to ourselves, 'others' necessarily being conceptions devised by our particular biological structure and experiential history, and seen and understood by means of the awareness created by our own CNS.
   Thus, solipsism (“the world is a creation of the mind”) is the philosophical theory best fitted to account for these ideas. If sensations and conceptions are all that a viable CNS can produce, 'myself' and 'others' and 'the world' can only be products of those capacities. Whether such products as 'others' and 'an external world' exist, as our science assumes, depends on how you define 'existence', definitions being no more than conceptions and, consequently, ideas and beliefs created by that same CNS.
    The easiest way to misunderstand Viewpoint Theory is to conflate 'bodies' with 'persons'---i.e., to forget that body cells and Central Nervous Systems are not 'people'---for this confuses description (science) with prescription (values, morals, beliefs, and preferences).
   We consciously live in a political world of values and preferences, of 'goods' and 'bads' and 'rights' and 'wrongs', not in an empirical world of 'things' and 'forces'. It is our human ability to plot and plan and carry out our moment-by-moment stratagems of survival which makes our species special and our innocence lethal. While each of us is "doing the best he (or she) can" we create the endless familiar problems of civilization and the dramas of everyday life. 'Creatures' populate our awareness all the while the CNS is busy creating those creatures and a world for them to live in.


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