The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Reflections only exist in our minds.

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/29/2015 Category: Science
Updated: 12 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 359 times Debate No: 81776
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (1)




Unsure of anything, ask in comments.

First round acceptance.

Blah blah blah.


I accept.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for accepting.

Unlike most people believe, we do not actually see reality with our eyes. The eyes are mere light wave receptors which send electrical impulses to our brains. Our brains convert these electrical impulses into a visual representation of our surroundings. This is what we actually see. Now although there are objects that exist in reality, reflections are an optical illusion. We see something where nothing exists. Reflections do not occupy physical space and can not be perceived with any of our other sense organs. The image we see exists only in our mind.


I'm just going to jump in and begin making clarifications.

My opponent begins by discussing how the human eye works, that the images we see are just our brain's way of interpreting light waves that hit our eyes. This is all well and true, however if I am able to show that reflections exist outside of the mind, then I have won this debate.

The other side admits that there are certain objects which have objective reality (say, a soccer ball), but maintains that reflections are an optical illusion -- that we are seeing something that does not have an objective reality. His main argument for this is that reflections do not occupy a physical space and that they can't be perceived via our other senses. I'll hit both of these arguments, in the reverse order presented.

1. Reflections cannot be perceived with our other senses.

This argument doesn't particularly work when we realize that there are many things which we cannot perceive with our senses, but which we know exists. Consider ultraviolet light, for instance. We currently have no way of detecting UV light with any of our five senses, but science has confirmed that they do indeed exist. This example alone disproves the idea that what cannot be perceived with our naked senses alone does not have objective existence.

Furthermore, the fact that we can perceive reflections with our eyes implies that they do have some degree of physical existence. My opponent claims reflections are an optical illusions, but that would imply then that we are still seeing something, it just isn't a reflection. I can't imagine what my opponent would argue we are actually seeing. Perhaps light? But if that is his argument, then we are indeed seeing a reflection. More on this in my next point.

2. Reflections do not occupy physical space.

First it is beneficial to define exactly what a reflection is. According to Merriam-Webster, a reflection is the return of light or sound from a surface, or alternatively, the production of an image by a mirror or as if by a mirror.

Before analyzing the definition, let's talk about what happens during a reflection. We'll assume light is being reflected. Some object emits/bounces photons which hit a mirror. The mirror does not absorb the photons, so they are reflected away at an angle. For instance, imagine a soccer ball that is being reflected in a mirror. Photons leave the soccer ball, hit the mirror, reflect at an angle, then hit your eyes.

Now while a photon does not have mass (and it is unclear whether it occupies space in any meaningful way), it does have the ability to interact with matter that does have definite mass. For instance, when photos hit an object, they apply a (very small) force upon that object. Clearly photons exist because they interact with the world in this important way. If photons are real, then a reflection is simply a bounce back of these photons, implying that the reflection itself is real.

As for the definition of reflection, it is quite clear that if there exist a mirror which reflects light, that image created is, by definition, a reflection. I believe my opponent is mistakenly arguing that the image scene isn't the same object as the one reflected. This is true. A reflected image of a soccer ball is not a soccer ball, however it is a reflected image. Both the soccer ball and the image exist, outside of the mind.

3. An argument of my own.

Now that we have shown the opponent's thought process to be faulty, I'll present an argument proving that reflections can exist outside the mind. To do this, we must simply eliminate the 'mind' from the situation, then determine whether reflections still exist.

Imagine an uninhabited world far off in the universe. It is composed, in some places, as a large, smooth sheet of ice. Beside one particular sheet of ice, there is a mountain. Now if photons are being thrown off the mountain, then hit the ice, then thrown off at an angle, there is indeed a reflection happening. We don't need to observe the situation to understand that physics demands the existence of a reflection. And since this reflection is existing without being observed, it exists outside the mind.

I look forward to my opponent's response.
Debate Round No. 2


My opponent is absolutely correct in stating that photon exist and that reflection is a physical process, but seeing something is also a process. A process that starts in the real world and finishes in the mind. Like color starts out as light waves of different frequencies but ends with our minds creating colors in our heads. Without the eyes and brain, colors do not exist.

The problem is that the imaging function of our brain is subconscious. It creates an image based on the photons striking our retina and can't differentiate between real or illusion. It's up to our conscious mind to recognize the fact that there is a mirror there. There are 3 types of light waves that hit our retina. Direct, reflected and phantom light. Direct light is light from a light source such as the sun, a flame, a globe, etc. Reflected light is direct light reflected of an object such as the moon, an apple, a tree, etc. Phantom light is light which appears to come from a location, but has actually been reflected by a mirror, water or glass. That is why our subconscious mind creates the image of a ball where there is no ball. Direct light and reflected light come from objects that exist where we percieve them to be, but phantom light is just an illusion. There is no real object where we see it. Photons reflecting off a mirror or glacier do not make a reflection. Photons need eyes and a mind to create a picture. What we see is the reflection. If nobody sees it, a reflection doesn't exist.


Let's get going with the last argument!

My opponent largely understands my argument, but his own argument is structured such that essentially nothing is real.

For example, he states that "it is up to conscious mind to recognize the fact that there is a mirror there", which leaves us with the dangerous implication that a conscious mind is necessary for anything to be there at all. Again, we'll picture a soccer ball on some distant, lonely planet. According to my opponent, since there isn't a mind there to see and interpret the photons generated by the soccer ball, the soccer ball doesn't have existence.

This reminds me of the over-quoted philosophical question: "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a sound?" From a phyics standpoint, we know it will make a sound, as the force of the tree hitting the ground creates sound waves. Similarly, my opponent is asking "If a tree is refelcted in a mirror and no one is around to see it, does the tree have a reflection."

Based upon the logic with the tree in the woods, by invoking physics and understanding the nature of reflective surfaces, we can be sure that the reflection of the tree will exist.

My opponent is right in his claim that, in a mirror, the reflected object is not the same as the reflection. (His words: "...our subconscious mind creates the image of the ball... There is no real object where we see it." And this is mostly true, as I previously pointed out. When a soccer ball is reflected in a mirror, there is no real soccerball where we see it. However, there is without a doubt a reflection occuring in the mirror, regardless of whether we're there to see it or not.


The opponent makes the mistake in assuming that one must see something for it to have objective reality. I have shown that reflections are composed of real, meaningful parts and that a reflection is the result of a physical process. There does not need to exist a mind in order for a reflection to exist, just as there does not be a mind in order for an apple to fall from a tree. Physics happens with or without us around.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by whiteflame 11 months ago
>Reported vote: Bob13// Mod action: Removed<

3 points to Con (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: Con proved that reflections exist in objective reality, which Pro was unable to negate.

[*Reason for removal*] The voter has to assess specific arguments made in the debate and not merely state that Con proved Pro's point false. The voter also needs to assess arguments made by both sides.
Posted by whiteflame 11 months ago
>Reported vote: logical-master123// Mod action: Removed<

3 points to Con (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: Pro says that Con is correct in the third round.

[*Reason for removal*] Accepting that one argument of his opponent's was right does not necessarily count as a concession of the debate.
Posted by whiteflame 11 months ago
>Reported vote: Peepette// Mod action: Removed<

3 points to Con (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: Protons interacting with matter that does have definite mass was the defining turn that reflections do exist outside the mind.

[*Reason for removal*] Even if this point was the major decision-maker in the debater, the voter needs to assess arguments made by both sides in order to come to a decision and not merely point to one made by Con.
Posted by Furyan5 12 months ago
Thanks. A longer debate is already under way. Oxford has more than one definition of reflection. It's obvious we have been debating two different definitions. I was specifically debating the objective existence of a reflection, namely, the image we percieve in a mirror. Con was arguing for the objective existence of reflection, namely, the throwing back by a body or surface of light and sound. It requires some reflection to grasp that reflection is not a reflection.
Lol isn't English just fascinating?
Posted by sherlockholmesfan2798 12 months ago
I would like to commend both debaters for the largely enjoyable, albeit short, debate. The debate here seems unfinished, and I would agree with Pro in that 3 rounds was not sufficient for the debate to truly reach its potential. I would like to see a longer debate, in which both sides could properly be represented. With that said, the reasoning for choosing Con in this debate will be explained.

Pro opens with a few fallacious statements. Particularly, "Reflections do not occupy physical space and can not be perceived with any of our other sense organs. The image we see exists only in our mind", which are used to disprove the actual existence of reflections. Con pounces on this by stating that UV rays can also cannot be sensed with our five senses. However, it certainly exists, and the lack of being able to sense this does not prevent it from existing.

Con also states that if photons exist, then so do reflections, as the photons simply bounce back. Con confirms the existence of protons by the interactions of them in the world and how these interactions are proven with mirrors. This is proven true and the thus the reflections must exist, regardless of the presence of life, because of the interactions of photons and the existence of them. This is not properly rebutted by Pro.

From reading the debate, it seems Pro is arguing that the reflections we can visibly see, only exist in our minds, but not all reflections. However this is just my perception, and this could be entirely changed had the debate been longer. If Pro would like to respond to this, I would be happy to be informed on the actual intent of Pro in this debate, and what I may have missed in his arguments.

Furthermore, I would appreciate the use of sources, to validate any information, and for credibility.

Great debate, and I hope you create a longer debate on this topic.
Posted by Furyan5 12 months ago
I can see 3 rounds was obviously not enough. Are you up for 5 rounds? People obviously don't grasp the difference between reflection, the process, and a reflection, the image we percieve.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by sherlockholmesfan2798 12 months ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.