The Instigator
QuantumAchilles
Pro (for)
The Contender
tumeric
Con (against)

The objectiveness of reality

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/5/2017 Category: Science
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 391 times Debate No: 99617
Debate Rounds (5)
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QuantumAchilles

Pro

I want to defend the position that reality is objective and Universal and that it maintains a quantum and macroscopic structure that is independent of human consciousness. I will debate in pro of the idea that the fundamental laws such as gravity, electromagnetism and the strong interactions that govern everything from the motion of atoms to the evaporation of black holes, are expressed in the language of mathematics, in the language of pattern and geometry which is also independent from the mind.
tumeric

Con

I will take the Con position and say that the languages by which we understand reality are not independent of the mind.
Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge. The word "imagination," obviously, is rooted in "image." Both 'black' and 'hole' are images from human experience that frame our understanding of a cosmic phenomenon. Just as blue light illuminates the blueness of things and red light reveals redness, mathematics illuminates the mathematic properties of things, and geometry illuminates their geometric properties. Both are mental constructs that must exist prior to knowledge of the thing in question.
Debate Round No. 1
QuantumAchilles

Pro

It's true that the anatomy of the eye determines the type of light we experience, however when you speak of black holes, remember that these objects are not something we humans can perceive with our senses. According to general relativity, a black holes is an object so dense that it's escape velocity is greater than light, meaning not even light can escape its event horizon, moreover, its singularity has no time nor space therefore it is something abstract that we cannot perceive directly. We find evidence of their existence through the radiation they emit, through the light they produce and most recently, through the gravitational shock waves they create. You say that mathematics is a construct of the human mind, but mathematical and geometrical structures existed long before humans. For example, the way in which atoms are ordered in a molecule say a water molecule, the ratio between Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms is always 2 to 1, the fact that spiral galaxies had a geometric structure, that the planets have elliptical orbits, are aspects of nature that existed billions of years before the earth was formed, thereby billions of years before we came along. If mathematics is not independent of the human mind, how can you explain the ELLIPTICAL orbit of planets, fractal geometry in molecules, numerical patterns in the energy states of electrons, the value of the cosmological constant and so many other mathematical properties of the Universe that formed eons before the brain?
tumeric

Con

Things can only be defined insofar as we can perceive them with our senses, or imagine them abstractly. What I'm saying is that without the abstraction (math, geometry), there's no way to understand anything. But those abstractions, though real in the sense that they reveal real properties of things, are extensions of the mind.

If you had a blind basset hound, the world for that animal would be built entirely of smells. Dogs smell things we can't. They can differentiate parts of a smell that for us melds together into one thing. So the picture of the world based on smells would be totally different from the one we see. But how things smell is also governed by laws, so a system of geometry or spatial reasoning based on smell might be totally different, but equally valid, to what we know.

I'm relying on Kant's idea about the noumena vs. phenomena. My interpretation of this is that, for instance, chair looks one way from one vantage point, and different from another vantage point. So then to 'see' a chair objectively you have to view it with no vantage point, in which case our definition of seeing breaks down. There can be no seeing without perspective. In the same way, math and geometry can't exist without the mind.
Debate Round No. 2
QuantumAchilles

Pro

1) There is an objective reality that is independent of our senses. For example, quantum mechanical phenomena such as virtual particles, entanglement and tunnelling are aspects of the Universe that are not affected by our senses. Furthermore, the Universe manifested geometric properties such as the curvature of space which leads to the formation of gravity according to general relativity, the concept of speed, the orbit of planets and the arrangement of atoms in a molecule, long before we humans existed. If as you say, reality depends on what we can sense, how did planets, stars, galaxies and black holes form according to mathematical patterns, as mathematical structures before we existed? You speak of the abstract but even abstract concepts such as a singularity have been proven by science to exist, in this case within a black hole. For example, through the abstract mathematics of quantum theory, scientists such as Niels Borh and Warner Heisenberg were able to extrapolate key concepts of the physical world such as radiation and the relationship between electrons and photons, meaning that the abstract provides a way to find those hidden aspects of nature that we cannot be aware of merely through our senses.

2) I agree to the extend that the perception of reality varies according to what biological system you are looking at. For example, a bat may rely on echolocation to structure the dimensions of its surroundings while we humans rely on our eyes but even so, consider the following situation: Imagine a worm. The worm does not perceive light nor sound in the way that we do and if you say that reality depends on the senses, what would happen if you were to drop a bomb in the vicinity of the worm? If the worm can't sense the bomb and his consciousness is not aware of that explosive artefact, then the bomb is not a part of his reality, however, even if his senses are not aware of that bomb, the explosion a consequence of physical reactions the worm is not conscious of, will still affect it, effectively killing the worm. In the case of a dog, its true that they smell and hear things that are beyond the capacity of our senses but they are still subject to laws they cannot perceive. For example, if you heat up a dog to a sufficient degree in a large oven, his atoms will react to heat therefore changing state which means that there is an objective reality that is separate from what the senses can perceive. We humans are not aware of radiation yet it still damages our cells producing cancer. Similarly, the laws of gravity which dictate the perception of time are at work independently of our senses.

3) Good point. Kant's interpretation is exactly what you said, however though there might be several ways of processing the light that reflects from say a chair, in such a way that a human may see it as brown and a cat may see it as grey, there is still a fundamental composition of that chair that does not vary and that is the molecular world that makes up that chair. Sure, if the anatomy of the eye changes, so does the color of the chair but the atoms never change, that's why I say reality is objective.
Here is an idea I propose regarding the objectiveness of reality:
-The way in which we see, hear, smell or feel the world may vary according to the anatomy of our brain and that goes for every animal that exists. However, the fact that all matter is formed by molecules, atoms, electrons and quarks never changes. You can get a frog to look at a rock and it will see it differently to the way in which a human perceives it, because of the difference between their anatomy, yet, wether you see the chair as red or brown, wether you see it or not, if you heat up that chair, it will begin to evaporate because of the interaction between its atoms and heat. Wether your senses see something, weather your mind visualises something or not, cannot affect the fundamental quantum essence of all objects. For example, wether you see a black hole or not, wether you imagine it or not, it does not change the fact that it will eat a planet millions of light years away. Say you have a cell and you bombard it with some radiation. The fact that you don't see nor feel nor hear radiation does not change the fact that it will still interact with the cell wether you see it or not. This shows that there is a fundamental set of laws that are independent of the mind otherwise, chemical processes such as the formation of DNA, the formation of atoms in the heart of distant stars (nucleo-synthesis), the process which lead to the prevalence of matter over anti-matter (baryogenesis) would have never occurred if indeed reality depends on the conscious mind because there was no consciousness when these processes took place.
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
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Debate Round No. 5
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