Acceptance Finally

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Does reality really matter anymore? I may have covered this somewhat already. Well, I’ll go over it again.

There’s been a long battle for centuries about the foundation of all knowledge. There are rationalists who believe we learn everything through reason. Then there are the empiricists who think every byte of brain power is by experience. It’s like the epic philosophical rivalry. Think Yankees v. Red Sox, Soviets v. Americans, Archie v. Reggie.

In the rationalist corner: Kant and Descarte, etc. In the empiricist corner: Locke and Hobbes, etc. Many philosophers who never had a dog in the hunt are often classified as one or the other.

I’ve struggled with it most of my life. I’m not really sure where I fall though I’ve always leaned more towards the rationalists. In my mind, the idea of all knowledge based on my senses makes me feel more like a hybrid ape than a human being. (Who knows, maybe at the end of the day that’s all we really are)

Empiricists argue that we all learn first from touching, tasting, hearing, smelling and seeing. Then at some point reason comes along and processes those sensations. Seems reasonable to me. How can you define a pure idea without any kind of empirical knowledge to back it up?

But then rationalists argue that all sensations are first processed by the reason filter. Which I take to mean, reason is there first. Your senses can deceive you. You can see a watery-looking image on the horizon on a hot day. But your reasoning capabilities helps you understand it’s a mirage.

Yeah, I’m going with the rationalist camp here. There really is no such thing as reality anymore is there? Maybe it was never really there. At the end of the day, we can’t really prove anything about what we perceive. Because it’s all perception, that pretty much belies empiricism doesn’t it?

A schizophrenic has all kinds of perceptions. What’s real to them? Is reality to a schizophrenic patient the reality we tell them after they take medication?

And if that’s the case, what’s real to us? This quickly devolves into that childish notion that we are all really living in our own play, with everyone around us merely being characters.

The true test for any reality is a result, I think. We can choose to believe perceptions that global warming isn’t real. But that’s not really going to stop global warming is it? It’s very much a tree-falling-in-the-forest-without-a-sound kind of thing.

Well, if that tree falls on your head and kills you, then the whole reality vs. perception thing doesn’t really matter anymore does it? The dead don’t perceive.

I say reality doesn’t matter anymore because it seems that people have given up trying to discover the truth of things, whether it’s politics, religion, science, etc. Every day we can log onto Web pages and read the things we like read. We can watch TV and listen only to the voices we agree with. It seems to me we have all withdrawn inside ourselves and in that case, perception is all we really know.

There is no such thing as reality.

And I think I hear the sound of a tree falling.

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Really Real

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Can anything be real that’s beyond evidence?

A soul? Love? Freedom? All of those Kantian notions that are beyond our empirical understanding, can they be experienced? We seem to think so.

So, if they’re experienced does it make them real? They can’t be explained. That’s a tough bridge to build across a gulf of human existence. We all have a different idea about the nature of love, freedom and God. We all have different experiences that manifest those ideas within ourselves.

I think they are real, because while our projections of ideals vary, we all still have our own projections. Love is something that exists only within each of us. Freedom is grasped on an individual basis. A tree is an idea. There is physical evidence of trees but they still have an idea behind them. We all have our own idea of what a tree is. If we were to each think of a tree, we would all imagine a different one.

So if an idea of something founded by empirical experience is considered real then why can’t something experienced with no physical evidence be real?

The only problem with that is, what’s to stop any idea from becoming real?

God and Dice

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A letter Albert Einstein wrote to philosopher Eric Gutkind is now up for sale on eBay. Einstein goes on about how he doesn’t feel there is a personal God and that the biblical stories are childish. He also said while he was proud of his Jewish heritage, he didn’t feel Jews were the chosen people.

I’ve always had a hard relationship with the notion of God. There is something to the idea of a higher being who started the universe. What role He has in how it works, how it changes, morphs and is interpreted, I’m not so sure. I’m definitely of the prime mover school. Still trying to iron out the kinks.

Immanuel Kant held that there are concepts that people can never fully grasp because of their almost phantom nature. They exist purely in our minds and not the empirical world. Freedom was one. Immortality was another. Then there was God.These ideas exist without observable evidence but yet they permeate every culture of man. We all have our own idea about God, freedom and immortality

But what about Christ? Muhammad? Ghandi? Elvis? Real people with real impact on their world. There is testimony, observation, recordings in some cases. Can you intuit God through any existing or previously existing being? Not sure if Kant had an answer for that. I know I sure as hell don’t.

Kant is right about one thing though. These ideas of freedom, immortality, God, the persist no matter the person. We all think about these things though we come to different conclusions.

That means something. Not sure what. It does reaffirm my belief that there is something more than us that put this complex machine into motion.

That something is real even if we can’t wrap our heads around it.