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Mon, Feb. 21st, 2005, 05:04 am
sanityinwords: So I've been thinking...

As I was talking to my girl today I brought up the subject of conspiracy theories. And at some point in that short lived conversation a distant memory struck me:

My first day in Philosophy 101. An introduction began with the teacher telling us the basics of philosophy using key people such as Plato, Aristotle and Socrates to explain. I followed what I could, attempting to stay awake, so I could get my classes over with for the day. After the syllabus was passed out she issued our first assignment. An essay. What happened to the easy classes where you do almost nothing the first few weeks? Apparently I finished those in my first two semesters and it was time for some hard-core learning. Now, usually I am pretty good at writing reports or other literary works, so I figured I'd be able to breeze through it like I had done countless times in the past. My confidence left me as quick as a bulimic after dinner (bad joke I know) when I heard the subject of which we were to write about. Do we exist?

I soon felt empty and lost. I did not have an answer. The logic in my brain was constantly trying to prove or disprove my own existence. Is their proof in either direction? I struggled through the concept for several weeks (I never did turn in my paper) until that very question caused me to drop the class. It was much too complicated for my simple brain to process. And after several attempts to forget that class even existed I finally managed to do so. Until today.

So I ask you all to get into this debate as I am in the mood to do so. What proof is there to stand firmly behind our existence? Are you sure you exist?

Sure, we can all THINK that we exist. "Thinking" is nothing but rapid firing neurons in our brain. And if neurons control our thought process, our body, our emotions...what is left? What happens when those neurons cease to function? Do we still exist?


Mon, Feb. 21st, 2005 12:56 pm (UTC)
lark01: Hmmm...

Do we exist? I guess you could say that we do simply because if we didn't, my wife would not hound me to clean the house and mow the grass and all the other mundane things that need doing around the old homestead. I won't go the "i think, therefore i am" route. That is too easy...If I did not exist, my yard would be a mess...and since there are flowers in the beds, bushes trimmed and the deck is clean, the dishes are washed and put away, yeah I guess I do exist...I have a feeling that this is not the type of response that you were looking for, but it is early in the morning and I have not gotten all of my "neurons" to fire, just yet.


Mon, Feb. 21st, 2005 01:40 pm (UTC)
sanityinwords: Re: Hmmm...

All responses are welcome.

You base existence on your actions or lack thereof...but your perception of those actions is based on those neurons that, I agree, are difficult to fire in the morning (in my case evening since I work nights).

Following the Matrix theory, what if there was no spoon? What if the flowers, the deck, the dishes...all material things do not exist but are merely objects created by our neurons to give meaning to life? Or to keep the mind sane?

Perhaps in reality we are single cell organisms on a vast planet attempting to cope with solitude by creating our own world? Or better yet perhaps the world revolves around me (or you) and the rest of the world is a product of illusion created by our mind? Maybe you are a subconcious thought manifested by my mind to offer an explanation to this precise question.

I appreciate your response I mean not to confuse or offend anyone that chooses to partake in this discussion. Truly I am as lost in this issue as I first was. I need to give my "mind" a break from this.

Mon, Feb. 21st, 2005 02:50 pm (UTC)
lark01: Re: Hmmm...

Perhaps in reality we are single cell organisms on a vast planet attempting to cope with solitude by creating our own world?

This is a question that I have asked myself on occasion over my life...and it seems to enter into a viscious circular manner of reasoning (probably those pesky neurons again). If that were the case, it would not change the reality that we experience as individuals making up that single cell. Each level has its own sublevel...organism, organ, cell, molecule, atom type of organization. Maybe we haven't been discovered yet...even though we have discovered our smaller parts, it is entirely possible that we are simply riding along on one of the billions and billions of electrons orbiting a much larger nuclear mass, and the Milky Way as we know it is a single cell... such circular thought patterns plague me for a while and then I finally think...what difference does it make anyway? I still have to cut the grass....LOL

Wed, Feb. 23rd, 2005 06:33 am (UTC)
sanityinwords: Re: Hmmm...

...it is entirely possible that we are simply riding along on one of the billions and billions of electrons orbiting a much larger nuclear mass, and the Milky Way as we know it is a single cell...

This is a fascinating concept. And I agree that it really doesn't make a difference because mundane things still have to be accomplished. However, if it was in fact discovered that this situation was true and we were the proverbial atom to a higher level organism, would it make a difference in your life?

Me personally it would. I have always been in search of more knowledge and this discovery would truly make us all gods in our own reality. This is because everything that we have been brought up on, i.e. values, ethics, religion...would become void.

This discovery would indeed cause chaos but it would be welcome to discover the truth in my opinion.

Tue, Feb. 22nd, 2005 07:52 am (UTC)
levianosh: Perception Equals Reality

When I first heard the phrase "Perception Equals Reality", said to me by my father, I was first confused.

I don't remember the age I first heard the phrase, but now I've used this phrase to manage the stresses of

life and to provide my side of this debate, lol. Here is what I found on perception:

perception n.

  1. The process, act, or faculty of perceiving.

  2. The effect or product of perceiving.

(Why do the define crap this way?) Here are some better definitions:

  1. Recognition and interpretation of sensory stimuli based chiefly on memory.

  2. The neurological processes by which such recognition and interpretation are effected.

  3. Insight, intuition, or knowledge gained by perceiving.

  4. The capacity for such insight.

Perceive is defined as follows; which gives a better, clearer understanding of perception.

perceive tr. v.

  1. To become aware of directly through any of the senses, especially sight or hearing.

  2. To achieve understanding of; apprehend.

Thank you www.dictionary.com

We as human being perceive we exist through experience of life and the teachings of society. When you

cut your finger and see the blood, you see life come forth. So we are taught, experience, perceive. Once

again, neurons from the brain are processing information. As for the matter of proof that we exist,

science has proven we are alive, for a time anyhow. We all know the difference between being alive and not

being alive. Through our measurements of time we can see that we only exist for a brief time, compared to

other things, like stars. In our lifetime, I doubt we will know the boundaries of the universe and we will

question our existence as either the only life in the universe, a simple alien ant farm sitting in a

classroom of aliens, or any other variation out there.

We have come to understand that life is short. We live, breathe, breed, eat, shit, and have many other

different experiences. We experience our loved ones die and say, "They moved on, passed on, kicked the

bucket," etc. but to where?

Scientificly we have proven that we are built from simple building blocks, all they way down to DNA,

even to the proton, neuron, and the electron. These come together to form life, existence as we know it,

so far... We yet to know how these building blocks are formed. They are just "there". It is simply beyond

our understanding right now, but when we die, we know that these building blocks start to fall apart. The

energy that has held us together has ceast. Whether that energy has seeped into the air or absorbed by

other living things is unknown.

We perceive that we exist through our experiences, science, and our intelligence. That perception has

created our reality. The majority of us has left it at that, but some still question whether what we know

is truth. I believe that we will question whether or not we exist until somehow we prove that we don't.

I've seen enough proof to see that we do, I want to hear about the side that says we don't.

Tue, Feb. 22nd, 2005 07:52 am (UTC)
levianosh: Re: Perception Equals Reality

omg, LJ butchered my response, sorry all!

Wed, Feb. 23rd, 2005 08:04 am (UTC)
sanityinwords: Re: Perception Equals Reality

So your statement essentially states that we exist because our bodies are alive and because science stands behind this ideology. And that our experience in life confirms what science has studied.

As rational human beings this is what we believe. But this theory is also flawed when arguing pro-existence. Let me tell you why.

1. Lets examine our experiences first. Our experiences in life are recalled by our memories. Our memories can recall our first kiss, our first car, our first fight with a friend, our first toy as a child or our first word. But memories are governed by the device that processes them. What if the brain is not a physical object? Have you ever cut someones skull open to determine if a brain is in fact there? I haven't and know no one who has. I honestly can't say that I haven't been tempted with a few...but that's neither here nor there. What if there was no brain? Or even if the brain is there who says it can do what scientists say it does? What if it's our heart that thinks our our big toe?

You can argue that Freud said it was the brain or any other scientist for that matter. But the fact is the information that you rely your perception on is/was a human being different from yourself. That relies on a heavy trust in science and another man's word. Can you trust another man's word with something as important as to your existence? That's like saying you believe the U.S. invaded Iraq solely for Weapons of Mass Destruction. The uneducated man believes what they are told. The educated man questions it. This is not to say that anyone who questions their own existence is educated nor that anyone who doesn't is dumb. This is strictly stated for a point.

2. Scientists say that we bleed, we live, we die. Arguing pro-existence this is a valid point. But what if the scientists were misled? What if they are studying an existence that isn't, in fact, there. If we don't actually exist then their research is futile. Take a look at the movie The Thirteenth Floor. In the movie a world was created through computers and technology that was so real the people dwelling there were convinced that it was real. But the created people were nothing more than electrons flowing through circuitry. Disconnect the power source and the whole world disappears. Are you certain that our existence is not like this one? That we are not merely created for the amusement of a computer and its creator?

Let the debate continue...