Can you really experience anything objectively?

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shadowdweller
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Our entire perception of things is shaped by our own experiences, so can be ever actually experience things objectively?
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ChaoticButterfly
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(Original post by shadowdweller)
Discuss.
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picklescamp
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no. We can't. It's like we're in a private cinema with projections of the outside world (if there even is one oop solipsism) being played to us. We can't ever escape so we will never know if out perception is accurate or distorted.
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CoolCavy
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shadowdweller you seem quite deep and pensive today :teehee:
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there's too much love
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*sigh* so bored of these philosophy threads where you ask a question and don't bother to go into ANY arguments at all.

So you only get a short (and to be honest, obvious response that you have surely had? I mean come on...)

So...objectively things exist.
However, your perception of objective things is subjective (or societal) depending on what it is.

I see a mountain, a river and a valley. Bill from a separate society sees a Calcwata (essentially encapsulating what I see as 3 concepts he see's as once).

Our perception of the same thing(s) that objectively exist is therefore conceptualised differently.
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jeremy1988
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Well, that would depend on your definition of objectively. If you mean that there exists a common sensory reality that most people can agree upon, then you can experience reality objectively. In fact, the entire field of psychology is premised on the notion that there is an objectively correct way of perceiving reality, and that those who perceive it incorrectly to the point that it causes social dysfunction are mentally ill.

However, if you're asking whether we can know the truth of reality beyond what our minds, social conventions, and senses tell us, then you're asking the same question that nearly drove Rene Descartes mad. The moment you question the objectivity of your senses and your mind, then everything you can possibly perceive is suspect. The only thing you can tell for sure is that you are aware of your own existence and thinking about it. "Cogito ergo sum", or "I think, therefore I exist".

But the only answer to a question like this is that it's not ultimately knowable how much of our experience of reality is objective truth, and how much of it is a collectively agreed upon delusion. We rely on our senses and the senses of others to correct our distortions in perception, but if we all have the same blind spots, then it's just the blind leading the blind. It's like the existence of God, in a way, because you have to have faith in the validity of sensory experience and the human mind in order to believe in an objective reality.

I would suggest that the view of reality that comes closest to being objective is probably that of the senses and recorded observations of impersonal facts. Assuming you agree on the definition of an inch, an object that is 12 inches will not be 13 inches if another person measures it in the same manner with a different measuring tape. If he measures it in centimetres or perhaps the old French version of the inch, he might get a different answer. But all of these answers can be converted from one system to another, and yield the same result if you know what system was used in the first place. The basis of this sense of objectivity is the impersonality and immutability of these facts, the ability to correct for the error of others, the ability to make clear definitions, and the relative consistency in the perception of things in this form of reality.

But once again, even this does involve placing faith in your own senses and in other people's senses. So, in summary, you can only experience reality objectively if you define objectivity to include faith in one's own senses and records of sensory experience when corroborated by the senses and records of sensory experience of other people. If this is not sufficient proof or evidence of objectivity, then it is, in fact, impossible to experience reality objectively.
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Stychomythia
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No. Indeed this is not even dependant on our experiences as makers of our critical faculties. Even if we were born with the full range of critical faculties we would not be able to experience anything objectively as experience is an inherently subjective property.

The closest thing to purport to objectivity is - I would suggest - science. But science depends upon reproduce-ability, that is confirmation by other people that any original experiment is robust in methodology and produces the same results in a different time at a different place. In other words, even if an original experiment were witnessed by me and another scientist witnessed the same result at another time, that scientist would not be witnessing what I originally witnessed, only a re-enactment of the same process with the same results.
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banterboy
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You objectively have a subject experience.

/thread
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Stychomythia
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(Original post by banterboy)
You objectively have a subject experience.

/thread
And how do we prove that sufficient to satisfy any test of objectivity?
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banterboy
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(Original post by Stychomythia)
And how do we prove that sufficient to satisfy any test of objectivity?
Objectively, if you think you are conscious you are conscious.
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Stychomythia
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Ah yes - the Descartes test.

1. But it's still only subjective. 'I think therefore I am' is written in the first person because only I know it. Nobody else can establish my consciousness on the basis of my own self-perception, therefore It remains subjective. Descartes himself used the test in order to establish that he proceeded from a basis of doubt - not objective certainty.

2. But we lack a robust definition of consciousness, in any event.

Can consciousness ever be objective? I cannot know what someone else thinks in the same way that they experience it; because if I truly did, I would therefore relinquish my perception of the other person's consciousness. And that perception is what makes my observation (at least slightly more) objective. This is similar to Heisenberg (he says, not remotely being a particle physicist) once I observe someone else's consciousness I cannot experience it myself. I can only observe the signs of someone else's consciousness (images, EEGs, scanning instruments, etc). Consciousness, like experience, remains subjective. Experience is simply consciousness over time.
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there's too much love
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(Original post by Stychomythia)
No. Indeed this is not even dependant on our experiences as makers of our critical faculties. Even if we were born with the full range of critical faculties we would not be able to experience anything objectively as experience is an inherently subjective property.

The closest thing to purport to objectivity is - I would suggest - science. But science depends upon reproduce-ability, that is confirmation by other people that any original experiment is robust in methodology and produces the same results in a different time at a different place. In other words, even if an original experiment were witnessed by me and another scientist witnessed the same result at another time, that scientist would not be witnessing what I originally witnessed, only a re-enactment of the same process with the same results.
Objectivity is binary. You cannot be closer or further away from objectivity, either something is objective or it isn't.
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there's too much love
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(Original post by Stychomythia)
Ah yes - the Descartes test.

1. But it's still only subjective. 'I think therefore I am' is written in the first person because only I know it. Nobody else can establish my consciousness on the basis of my own self-perception, therefore It remains subjective. Descartes himself used the test in order to establish that he proceeded from a basis of doubt - not objective certainty.

2. But we lack a robust definition of consciousness, in any event.

Can consciousness ever be objective? I cannot know what someone else thinks in the same way that they experience it; because if I truly did, I would therefore relinquish my perception of the other person's consciousness. And that perception is what makes my observation (at least slightly more) objective. This is similar to Heisenberg (he says, not remotely being a particle physicist) once I observe someone else's consciousness I cannot experience it myself. I can only observe the signs of someone else's consciousness (images, EEGs, scanning instruments, etc). Consciousness, like experience, remains subjective. Experience is simply consciousness over time.
You are using the term 'know' incorrectly. There is no specialised philosophical sense of the term/concept 'knowledge' that makes sense or has any use.
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TheEssence
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Look at Kant and his stance on this. We can know things, be we cannot know things in themselves. All human's may see a chair, but it may not be a chair in itself.
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there's too much love
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(Original post by TheEssence)
Look at Kant and his stance on this. We can know things, be we cannot know things in themselves. All human's may see a chair, but it may not be a chair in itself.
I'm not sure chair is a good example.

Try to define the difference between a chair and a table.
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Stychomythia
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(Original post by there's too much love)
You are using the term 'know' incorrectly. There is no specialised philosophical sense of the term/concept 'knowledge' that makes sense or has any use.
Really? So all philosophy post Plato articulating any concept of 'gnosis' or translation of that, or any philosophy using the word 'know' is meaningless?

If you want to refine 'know' by all means do. but you can only say that 'know' is philosophically inadmissable if you can point to its consistent rejection or abuse.

Plenty of philosophers use the word know and its predecessors (and therefore use of 'knowing'; knowledge' etc) are they all wrong? Are none of them Philosophers? but let's look to see if they are a quality line-up. I reckon this is a pretty good A team:

“We make allowance for a certain degree of selfishness in men; because we know it to be inseparable from human nature, and inherent in our frame and constitution. By this reflexion we correct those sentiments of blame, which so naturally arise upon any opposition.”
― David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature

"So that if the capacity of knowing be the natural impression contended for, all the truths a man ever comes to know will, by this account, be every one of them innate: and this great point will amount to no more, but only to a very improper way of speaking; which, whilst it pretends to assert the contrary, says nothing different from those who deny innate principles.
Locke, John. An Essay concerning Human Understanding. 1689. (Top page 22)
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...page&q&f=false

Man, being the servant and interpreter of Nature, can do and understand so much and so much only as he has observed in fact or in thought of the course of nature. Beyond this he neither knows anything nor can do anything.
Novum Organum Aphorism 1.― Francis Bacon
https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/bac.../chapter1.html

"Contemporary philosophers have exercised themselves with the problem of our knowledge of other minds. Enmeshed in the dogma of the ghost in the machine, they have found it impossible to discover any logically satisfactory evidence warranting one person in believing that there exist minds other than his own. I can witness what your body does, but I cannot witness what your mind does, and my pretensions to infer from what your body does to what your mind does all collapse, since the premises for such inferences are either inadequate or unknowable."
Gilbert Ryle, The concept of mind, Chapter 1(10) Solipsism

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...owable&f=false

(NB - this text has typos in it - but the extract is sound)

"The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge."
Bertrand Russell

"Someone who knows too much finds it hard not to lie."
Wittgenstein

"Education is the acquisition of the art of the utilisation of knowledge."
The Aims of Education and Other Essays (London, 1929).

Disclosure - from online sources unverified against printed text. I have, to avoid questions of translation, used quotations only from philosophers writing in the English language.

I've only put in three direct references. This is enough to establish my point. They are, in addition, some of the seminal works of analytical school philosophy. Other examples may be more epigrammatic.
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there's too much love
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(Original post by Stychomythia)
Really? So all philosophy post Plato articulating any concept of 'gnosis' or translation of that, or any philosophy using the word 'know' is meaningless?

If you want to refine 'know' by all means do. but you can only say that 'know' is philosophically inadmissable if you can point to its consistent rejection or abuse.

Plenty of philosophers use the word know and its predecessors (and therefore use of 'knowing'; knowledge' etc) are they all wrong? Are none of them Philosophers? but let's look to see if they are a quality line-up. I reckon this is a pretty good A team:

“We make allowance for a certain degree of selfishness in men; because we know it to be inseparable from human nature, and inherent in our frame and constitution. By this reflexion we correct those sentiments of blame, which so naturally arise upon any opposition.”
― David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature

"So that if the capacity of knowing be the natural impression contended for, all the truths a man ever comes to know will, by this account, be every one of them innate: and this great point will amount to no more, but only to a very improper way of speaking; which, whilst it pretends to assert the contrary, says nothing different from those who deny innate principles.
Locke, John. An Essay concerning Human Understanding. 1689. (Top page 22)
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...page&q&f=false

Man, being the servant and interpreter of Nature, can do and understand so much and so much only as he has observed in fact or in thought of the course of nature. Beyond this he neither knows anything nor can do anything.
Novum Organum Aphorism 1.― Francis Bacon
https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/bac.../chapter1.html

"Contemporary philosophers have exercised themselves with the problem of our knowledge of other minds. Enmeshed in the dogma of the ghost in the machine, they have found it impossible to discover any logically satisfactory evidence warranting one person in believing that there exist minds other than his own. I can witness what your body does, but I cannot witness what your mind does, and my pretensions to infer from what your body does to what your mind does all collapse, since the premises for such inferences are either inadequate or unknowable."
Gilbert Ryle, The concept of mind, Chapter 1(10) Solipsism

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...owable&f=false

(NB - this text has typos in it - but the extract is sound)

"The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge."
Bertrand Russell

"Someone who knows too much finds it hard not to lie."
Wittgenstein

"Education is the acquisition of the art of the utilisation of knowledge."
The Aims of Education and Other Essays (London, 1929).

Disclosure - from online sources unverified against printed text. I have, to avoid questions of translation, used quotations only from philosophers writing in the English language.

I've only put in three direct references. This is enough to establish my point. They are, in addition, some of the seminal works of analytical school philosophy. Other examples may be more epigrammatic.
The established philosophical concept of 'know' is of truth and absolute certainty for the correct reasons.

This concept however, lacks real world meaning due to the (boring) argument that this could all be Descartes dream.

That is not to say that the normal use of the word 'know' is void of meaning.
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Stychomythia
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"The established philosophical concept of 'know' is of truth and absolute certainty for the correct reasons."

I'd be happier with some corroboration for that.

"That is not to say that the normal use of the word 'know' is void of meaning."

To what extent, and why, can a normal use not be a philosophical use?
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there's too much love
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(Original post by Stychomythia)
"The established philosophical concept of 'know' is of truth and absolute certainty for the correct reasons."

I'd be happier with some corroboration for that.

"That is not to say that the normal use of the word 'know' is void of meaning."

To what extent, and why, can a normal use not be a philosophical use?
If the uses are the same then it is just a normal use, that doesn't mean you can't talk about the philosophical ramifications of that.

And read just about any book on epistemology.

The reason the discussion on 'know' used in that way has changed is largely down to Wittgensteinian thinking (he actually specifically talks about this in 'On Certainty', his last book, and it makes very persuasive arguments on this).

GE Moore is the one who triggered the discussion.
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Stychomythia
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Thanks TTML, helpful.

I knew about Wittgenstein's thinking but didn't know about Moore's.

But if we're going to have a Moore style conversation on this subject, we're in for a very long October :-)
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