Naive realism (or externalism) is probably false
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"Naive realism, also known as direct realism or common sense realism, is a philosophy of mind rooted in a theory of perception that claims that the senses provide us with direct awareness of the external world. In contrast, some forms of idealism assert that no world exists apart from mind-dependent ideas and some forms of skepticism say we cannot trust our senses.
The [naive] realist view is that we perceive objects as they really are. They are composed of matter, occupy space and have properties, such as size, shape, texture, smell, taste and colour, that are usually perceived correctly. Objects obey the laws of physics and retain all their properties whether or not there is anyone to observe them."
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R2: Arguments and rebuttal
R3: Arguments and rebuttal
R4: No new arguments. No new sources. No referencing sources from previous rounds unless citing information that you’ve already mentioned. Summary.
If the voting period ends with the event of a tie, my opponent must agree to opening a 2nd debate that will allow one person to break the tie (or just leave it open for a few days).
I have accepted this debate.
I will be making the agrument that due to Constructive perception we due perceive objects as they really are, that they are are composed of matter, occupy space and have properties, such as size, shape, texture, smell, taste and colour, that are usually perceived correctly by anyone with Cs in high school. Objects obey the laws of physics and retain all their properties whether or not there is anyone to observe them, but that under the laws of physics that act of observing them does change there properties in a predictable way.
Constructive perception- intelligent perception; is the theory of perception in which the perceiver uses sensory information and other sources of information to construct a cognitive understanding of a stimulus.
Thanks to my gomergcc for accepting.
For sake of clarity, I will agree with naive realism that there exists a world of material objects, that sense-experience gives us some knowledge about this world, and that material objects exist independent of perception. I’m thus a realist in regards to the external world, but my argument will take a form of indirect realism and thus deny perception independent properties of objects and that we have direct perception of reality.
The typical human eye responds to wavelengths from 800 mu to 400 mu. The visible spectrum for a bee is 650 mu to 300 mu. Compared to humans, bees see light in shorter wavelengths. Their spectrum extends to ultraviolet, a color that humans cannot see. Bees can distinguish only four different colors in their visible spectrum: yellow, blue-green, blue, and ultraviolet. Humans are able to distinguish from about sixty different colors in the visible spectrum .
Bats use echolocation to navigate their surroundings. Their unique perceptual tools enable them to “see” with sound by emitting usually ultrasonic calls, above the 20 kHz range for humans to be able to hear .
Depth perception is perceived through binocular vision, image displacement, motion parallax and loom. In comparison to humans, rats have a limited binocular vision. They have to rely on motion parallax for depth perception, meaning they move their head from side to side so the objects seem to change position relative to each other based on distance thus enabling them to judge depth in a different way to ourselves .
I think it evident that the perceptions of bees, bats, and humans are all unimaginably different. There’s no way one could even imagine seeing in the visible spectrum of bees or perceiving reality through sonar like bats. A rat’s depth perception is more conceivable, but ultimately something completely different to the way we perceive depth.
If bees, bats, rats, humans, and all creatures see reality in vastly different ways, is it remotely reasonable to say that humans perceive reality as it is? Evidently, there are many different ways of seeing reality. Our cognitive properties and sense organs interpret reality and help us to make sense of it. Animals evolved different set of perceptual tools, thus making empirical reality vastly different for different creatures. For bees, reality is only four colors, including ultraviolet, which humans cannot see. Humans are able to see in many more colors but some of us can see in far more colors than others. For example, an artist with a rare condition called Tetrachromacy can see in an incredible 100 million colors (or shades of color) . As mentioned, there are differences in the way depth is perceived as well. We could say the same of the cognition of objects in general.
Argument from Illusion
Objects appear differently to different observers, and under different conditions. There are many different reference frames for perceiving a given object. The position of the observer, the state of their nervous system, and the effects of light all determine how an object appears. In similar situations the object will look different yet there’s no qualitative aspect of the experience can distinguish them. We can say that the object causes us to have an idea of it, which is only a representation, not a true picture since the mind imposes its subjective elements on the experience. Humans also have fallible sense organs. We all have a blind spot in an eye corresponding to where the optical nerve connects the retina to the brain .
Color is the most obvious flaw in naive realism. When I look at my desk, I see it as a shade of brown. No doubt, this is because it’s light waves correspond to that sensation. However, we could not say that color is an actual property of the table. It changes color based on lightning and looks different to people with different visible spectrums. The same thing goes for texture. It feels smooth but smooth is just a subjective feeling and if we were to look at it through a microscope, it would have many grooves and ridges. I haven’t tried licking my desk, but I’m sure we could say that my desk has no inherent taste to it. Taste and the other qualities of perception are given to objects by humans, not the other way around. They are not actual qualities of the physical objects.
Perception-Independent Properties of Objects/Direct Perception of the World by Means of the Senses
Naive realism fails in its belief that objects have and retain the properties we perceive them as having independent of humans. As the Wikipedia article puts it, that "their properties are perception independent".
Indirect realism is the most rational way of viewing the cognition of objects. The desk sitting in front of me exists independently of me. However, my perception of it is mediated, not immediate. I do not directly engage with it perceptually. In between my perception of the desk and the desk itself are my sense organs and the cognition of sense data. All I see are percepts--objects of perception--not the actual objects themselves. We see objects by way of neurophysiological features involved in perception, meaning reality is mediated. I’m sure Pro agrees that experience is mediated, so why does this matter? Because reality is mediated in different ways, as seen as above, thus resulting in subjectivity. The mediation effects the experience. What we bring to bear on experience shapes experience.
Reality is also too complex to capture completely. The mind must synthesize the vast array of data in a given experience into an intelligible whole. It thus does not assimilate most of the empirical data into the perception and the picture that it constructs is entirely created. It takes a fragmented jumble of elements and shapes it into a coherent whole by way of synthesis. This is the mind creating the perception as much as the external object. Perception is reciprocal.
All experiences have very subjective characteristics which we call qualia: “I run my fingers over sandpaper, smell a skunk, feel a sharp pain in my finger, seem to see bright purple, become extremely angry” . These subjective properties are mental. Experience is mental. The objects of experience, as we know them, are mental. However, the material world is physical, which implies a disconnect between our inward representation of reality and reality itself. Our mind imposes concepts and categories onto experience which shape how we perceive objects. Strip away the subjective components of experience and you have nothing left.
My opponent has missed that because of our constructive perception we are able to transcend the limitations of the frail human body. Though the use of science and technology we have built we are able to change our normal bodies sensory input until we can perceive reality has it is. I will demonstrate this by give a point by point rebuttal to my opponent’s argument. Keep in mind this is all due to constructive perception.
Humans can see in to the ultraviolet with the use of a black light.
Assuming I upload this correctly here is how a bee sees a flower.
Here is a link were you can hear on bat jamming another’s sonar.
Has for how it would be to use sonar to perceive the world around you ask any sonar operator. Keep in mind that bats can also see. They use sonar in a very similar way to how we do. To help see what our eyes can’t.
To my knowledge we have not tried to see how a rat can.
Yes it a property of the table. Light is reflected, absorbed, or transmitted when it hits an object and this is based off the properties of the object. It is brown because the table as reflected the brown section of the light waves. Changing the lighting conditions changes what is reflected and what is absorbed. The properties of the table that determine color are not static; if you change any of the conditions you get a different result. A spectrophotometer is able to determine the exact color of an object.
The same thing goes for texture. It feels smooth but smooth is just a subjective feeling and if we were to look at it through a microscope, it would have many grooves and ridges.
The next time you feel it you will use your constructive perception to know it is not smooth.
I haven’t tried licking my desk, but I’m sure we could say that my desk has no inherent taste to it. Taste and the other qualities of perception are given to objects by humans, not the other way around. They are not actual qualities of the physical objects.
I fully admit I am a bit odd and I have licked desks. Your desk does have a taste to it. Try it you will see for yourself. Yes, taste is an actual quality of an object. Taste is picking up on the chemical makeup of an object. We do this by combining the smell and sensations on our tongue. For example if something tastes salty that object has a high sodium makeup.
Yes and that is called constructive perception. The problem that my opponent has is that they forget that experience can teach us reality and to look past our own subjectivity. To be able to stand on the shoulders for the generations before us and use their experience in addition to our own. To use science and technology to force us to see reality as it is. My opponent uses an argument that is out dated. We live in a world that sees reality it is true form more and more each day. We have transcended the limitations of most of our perception. As humans constructive perception is a unique perception, and one my opponent disregards. To my opponent we are only able to perceive what our biology tells us. We alone on the planet can say no the rest of my perception is lying to me this is what is true. That ability is also a type of perception.
Thanks to Con for presenting your arguments.
Though interesting, I do not believe that Con’s argument even gets naive realism off its feet. It still admits the indirect representation of reality and thus does not correspond to naive realism.
Con’s picture is misleading. I don’t know what Pro’s picture is, but it’s not a picture of ultraviolet light. Humans and most mammals simply can’t see ultraviolet light . Evolution only allowed us to detect what confers an evolutionary advantage and ultraviolet light did not for us.
Regardless, Con is missing the point. It would not matter if we were able to see as bees do. The perceptual variability of creatures implies that there is no correct way to perceive reality; there are only different ways.
Con is again deceptive in saying that we can hear like a bat by following his link. The sound was slowed down 20 times so that we can hear it, according to his link. It’s 20 times slower than what a bat hears. The sole reason we can’t hear it is because of its speed, so presenting a slowed down version in this debate is pointless. We’re not capable of hearing how they hear, so we’re not capable of conceiving what it’s like to be a bat.
Again, regardless of whether we can manage to hear bat sounds, the fact is that our experience of the world is vastly different to theirs. It doesn’t matter if we can get some idea of what their experience is like. It would have nothing to do with being able to perceive reality directly. Both humans and bats see reality indirectly because of their anatomy and cognitive apparatus. No creature sees reality as it is, and if any do, it’s not humans. Even if Con argued we could tap into the minds of every living creature on earth, that would not be an argument for naive realism. It would only mean we have access to different representations of reality.
The question is not whether we can transcend our “limitations”--not a word I’d agree with here. The very admittance that we’d have to escape our perceptual apparatus implies that we do construct an indirect representation of reality in our minds. It would not matter if we were able to mimic a bee’s perception of reality. The question is whether in all of this perceptual variance among creatures can we say that there exists the right way of perceiving the world. Perception is best understood by saying there isn’t, but even if there were, how could we know that it’s humans that are doing it right? Con has to defend the proposition that humans perceive reality directly and as it is and that qualia, such as the perception of color, are inherent properties in the world--despite the fact that their very definition distinguishes them as internal and subjective. He thus has to dismiss the perceptual perspective of other creatures and even other humans (such as color blind people, people with Tetrachromacy and even those who perceive depth differently or perceive more patterns in nature.
Argument from Illusion
At this moment, I’m sitting at a basketball practice. If I were to describe what I see, I would say that a group of 8 girls, half of whom are wearing yellow pennies, are playing a game. They’re divided into two groups. Their external anatomy distinguishes them as human. And they’re using a spherical ball.
An analysis of the description above reveals how reality as perceived by us is constructed. The concept of multiplicity and of abstract numerical entities are human notions, albeit with practical applicability to the world. Every categorization and division of entities in the world is created in my mind. To see this most clearly we can recognize the fact that geometrical entities very rarely correspond to reality, and numerical absolutes can only be approximately represented in the physical world and only through mental categorization. Math assumes identity: that 1 is equal to 1 and the addition of them creates something absolute called 2. In the physical world nothing matches up to his process, because nothing in the world is identical. We merely label things. The very action of taking something physical and isolating it from everything else is a mental process used constantly in everyday life. We conceive reality in mathematical terms and categories because it is extremely useful, but this representation is created by us.
I cannot overstress the fact that direct realism would be greatly disadvantageous to us (assuming it is even possible). We could not live life without the categories that we impose on experience. In order to make sense of the world, we use a vast array of perceptual tools such as our synthesization of experience and constant labelling and categorizations which are vital to basic functioning. A direct realist wouldn’t even be able to cross the street.
Con does not give us any reason to believe what we perceive as color is an inherent quality of objects. Color is based off of light waves but color does not equal light waves. Experience of color has two components: external stimulation and internal representation--light waves and qualia. A color blind person could know every physical fact there is about redness but she would still lack the understanding of the subjective quality of our perception of what is red, though what red is is different to different people. Light waves are the most objective basis we can give color, but what people perceive as red or blue varies, as evidenced by the women mentioned last round who sees in 100 million colors (or shades of color). Even closing one eye can make color appear different to normal, as Hilary Putnam notes .
Texture: Con misses the point. The table is neither smooth nor rough. We feel it as smooth because of our anatomy. It is smooth to us but neither smooth nor rough in itself. As Robert Anton Wilson says , we really should stop using the word “is” so often and replace it with “appears to be” or “seems to be”. “The desk seems smooth.” “The music feels pleasant.” “Ultraviolet radiation does not appear visible.”
As with color and texture, taste corresponds to something objective but is itself subjective and mental. I’m sure my desk would have a taste to me, but it would probably be different to your taste of it.
Perception-Independent Properties of Objects/Direct Perception of the World by Means of the Senses
I believe Con has ignored my last two paragraphs, including the synthesization of experience and qualia.
As stated before, our cognitive apparatus is not a limitation. Indirect realism is necessary for anything to cohere in the world. It is what enables us to go about our daily lives with ease and to study nature in a way that makes sense to us. For example, if we ceased to synthesize experience, we’d no longer see a coherent world. The synthesization of experience is exactly what allows us to take a vast array of complex data and form it into something that give us an intelligible experience. As Daniel Robinson put it (inexact quote) “the radical empiricist would live life starring about with a gross rusticity”  (naive realists are not necessarily radical empiricists but radical empiricists would usually have to be naive realists). Thinking in absolutes helps us to organize objects. We use geometrical concepts to organize experience and use abstract mathematical notions to conceive the world as law governed. We see patterns constantly in nature. We make use of symbolism and give everything labels. We categorize objects and divide them into discrete entities. As the above indicates, humans don’t just perceive subjective qualities such as color and taste; the very intelligibility of experience is indirect representation.
Con has given us no reason to believe we can escape subjectivity. It’s simply not possible. The world is only coherent because of the way our mind shapes it. Experience can reveal the subjectivity of perception, but does not teach us how to get past it--not that that would be desirable. Moreover, Con seems to outright admit that our knowledge of the world is indirect. Saying that we can escape it assumes that we’re stuck in it now. Con has to show that we perceive the world as the naive realist posits we do; not that it’s possible for us to. My argument is most certainly not outdated. An understanding of cognitive science in fact helps it.
gomergcc forfeited this round.
gomergcc forfeited this round.