The Instigator
SarcasticMethod
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Bravo8675309
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Are our experiences real?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/11/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 333 times Debate No: 83784
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
Votes (0)

 

SarcasticMethod

Pro

Are our experiences real? I will take the position of PRO. I have burden of proof.
Round 1: Definitions and Opening statements

Experience: (noun) A unit of information taken in by the sensory organs. Some types of experiences are sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and feelings.
Real: (adjective) Having the property of existence.
A priori: that which is known without experience
A posteriori: that which is known with experience
Analytic: Trivial knowledge - statements such as "All unmarried men are bachelors", where they are necessarily true by definition.
Synthetic: Non-trivial knowledge - statements such as "Jim is a bachelor", where they are contingently true and might be false.

By what do we understand the world we live in? Any a priori knowledge we have is only ever analytic, and what that means is that we can never gain new information from a priori knowledge alone. Any new information must come in through the senses, in the form of experience.

The question is, then, does this experience ever correspond to reality? Ren" Descartes famously tried to show that our sense are fallible when he spoke of a Great Deceiver who held the highest craft in fooling anyone, and could fool you into believing in the reality of your experiences when, in truth, the world was bizarrely different. The question I might ask Descartes would be, what difference would it make? We can't understand reality in any sense other than our experiences. Would it matter if our experiences were fabricated?

All experiences are technically valid in some sense. When I see an apple, whether the apple can be said to exist mind-independently or not, there is no doubt that the apple exists in a mental way. The apple must exist as a construct of data in the mind regardless of anything else - otherwise we would not even be perceiving an apple. So, no matter what exists beyond the mind, the apple must exist within.
Bravo8675309

Con

Ah, some classic Kantian Epistemology! Now this is a debate I can get behind. Best of luck!

As stated by Pro, BoP rests on him. Thus my task is not to prove conclusively that our senses and the external world are not real, merely that Pro's argument is insufficient to *prove* his premise of objectively real experience.

Real: "existing or occurring as fact; actual rather than imaginary, ideal, or fictitious."
http://dictionary.reference.com...

My opponent maintains our external experience (i.e. perception) to be real in the sense that it exists as a collection of data in the brain. If an apple is nothing more than the sum of the sensations of "red," "crunchy," "sweet," etc. then those sensations exist as information. However, to say that an experience is objective and "real" carries with it the necessary connection that the object of experience is also real.

Take the classic "brain in a vat" thought experiment, in which a mind is given electrical stimulation to simulate the continuity of veridical experience. The brain perceives an external world through stimulus, which produces the same sensory experience as one might have through ordinary living. Now, these perceptions are entirely artificial, as they are produced by the shocks and whirls of electrodes permeating the brain tissue. They are the function and result of a machine. Can you call this experience real in any sense other than the subjective? Based on the definition of "real" I've provided above, this sort of experience cannot be said to exhibit any qualities of "realness;" it is unequivocally imaginary and fictitious, taking place entirely within the confines of a single mind. Similarly, if our perception of the external world is false, then so, too, is our experience of that external world, as it would be entirely imaginary. The informational processes taking place within our brain in the vat can be said to exist as data, but they cannot be said to be real experiences. Such is the case with our own experiences, if the external world is not demonstrably mind-independent

Now, I will posit that while we cannot prove the external world to be mind-independent, as there is always the possibility we may be brains in vats (or matrices), it is possible to make reasonable claims for how the earth and universe function through scientific induction and inferential reasoning. We can predict with near certainty many mathematical and natural phenomena. We can launch satellites into defined orbits, and we can catalog the movements of celestial bodies with minimal error and uncertainty. There are generalizations we can make regarding our world. However, it is important to keep underlying this knowledge the understanding that it may yet be false. The amalgamated knowledge of millennia could be of the devising of an omnipotent and omniscient evil genius who placed all our brains in vats. Our brains might be residing in a universe with completely different scientific rules, and we'd have only the assumptions of our own "vat-world." So while we can make these assumptions about our world, it is important to keep shouldered the perpetual uncertainty of veridical existence.
Debate Round No. 1
SarcasticMethod

Pro

"...to say that an experience is objective and "real" carries with it the necessary connection that the object of experience is also real."
Is that so? In the idealistic scenario I provide you with, the supposed 'object' of the experience is merely the mental data itself, which is real. I fail to see how this doesn't meet the criteria of real existence.

"Can you call this experience real in any sense other than the subjective?" Yes. The data still exists mentally, and there is no doubt that it really exists there. Whether you define that as objective or subjective, it is inescapably true. Does it meet the criteria of 'real'? It certainly exists and occurs as fact, and is actual. However, it is also ideal and imaginary. The definition of 'real' given here seems to pose actuality and idea as opposites. As you can likely see, I disagree.

"...can be said to exist as data, but they cannot be said to be real experiences." This is plainly wrong. The data is the experience, and the presence of one is the presence of the other. What makes experiences from one source (electrodes) any less valid than experiences from other sources (sensory organs)?

When one looks at the world, one's eyes produce electrical signals that it feeds into the brain, resulting in the mental event known as 'seeing'. When a hypothetical 'brain in a vat' does the same, the electrodes produce electrical signals that they feed into the brain, resulting in the mental event known as 'seeing'. Wherein lies the difference?
Bravo8675309

Con

Bravo8675309 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
SarcasticMethod

Pro

I'm very unhappy that Bravo has forfeited this round. I'm eager to continue my debate with Bravo if possible.
Bravo8675309

Con

Bravo8675309 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Bravo8675309

Con

Bravo8675309 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
Bravo8675309

Con

Bravo8675309 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by nag.sahay 1 year ago
nag.sahay
Definition of 'Reality' is tricky. Popular definition that reality is existence is circular since existence can be ontological, epistemological or plainly transactional viz. by consensus. What is under debate is purely objective viz. sensory objects. In the later, there is no difficulty in conceding that sensory data is real as it relates to real object. However, is it absolutely real - meaning say, taking a mirage for a stream, experiences in dream or hallucination etc. , cannot be held real.
The point is, we must start with Absolute Reality that transcends both objective and subjective ( like say, pleasure, plain, fear etc.) to make the debate purposeful.
Posted by Jonbonbon 1 year ago
Jonbonbon
Well I've never seen you before, so I assumed noob argument like "how can this not be real? You see and you feel it." Which is basically your argument but you said it the intelligent way that a fully proves the point :P
Posted by SarcasticMethod 1 year ago
SarcasticMethod
what did ye think 'twould be like?
Posted by Jonbonbon 1 year ago
Jonbonbon
That first round was a lot better than I thought it would be. Good job.
Posted by TheChristian 1 year ago
TheChristian
I am intrigued.
No votes have been placed for this debate.