What is the nature of reality?


#1

When you woke up this morning, you found the world largely as you left it. You were still you; the room in which you awoke was the same one you went to sleep in. The outside world had not been rearranged. For most people, history was unchanged and the future remained unknowable. In other words, you woke up to reality. But what is reality? The more we probe it, the harder it becomes to comprehend. One thing though that both scientist and philosophers agree upon is that whatever reality is, it isn’t what it seems.

Reality: The Definition

What do we actually mean by reality? A straightforward answer is that it means everything that appears to our five senses everything that we can see, smell, touch and so forth. Yet this answer ignores such problematic entities as electrons, which we cannot sense but which are very real. It also ignores phantom limbs and illusory smells. Both can appear vividly real, but we would like to say that these are not part of reality.

Another possible mark of reality we could focus on is the resistance it puts up: as the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick put it, ‘reality is that which, if you stop believing in it, does not go away.’

But even these objective views of reality are being called into question.

Is reality really real?

The core idea that none of that which we see or touch or experience is real in any sense, and that we are basically living in a dream of some sorts, is a concept that has been considered across time by scientist and philosophers alike. One of the earlier ideas pertaining to this is a philosophical concept referred to as “Solipsism,” which in essence states that nothing in our reality can be absolutely confirmed to exist except our own mind, with the reality of the material world we see all around us and interact with impossible to be reliably verified as real beyond our own experience of it. In this sense, all other minds besides your own and everything you experience externally could very well be a dream or illusion, with the only real, absolute certainty being that you are you, you are thinking, and indeed the very universe itself may not even exist outside of your own mind. In short, all of reality as you know it and everything and everyone in it, the whole universe, is potentially a projection of your own mind, an elaborate dream which you have created and which only you perceive and experience.

This basic idea was first contemplated by Greek philosopher Gorgias (c. 483–375 BC), who came to the conclusion that any objective knowledge outside of our own personal experience was effectively impossible. He is recorded as having stated “Nothing exists. Even if something exists, nothing can be known about it. Even if something could be known about it, knowledge about it can’t be communicated to others.” This egocentric concept would be picked up on by other philosophers over the centuries in one variant or another, including Descartes and George Berkeley, and it has become intertwined with many different areas of philosophy and hypotheses on reality. It is, of course, all a lot more complex than this, but in the interest of simplicity, in essence, the idea is that our reality cannot be verified independently as being anything other than existing in our own consciousness and perceptions, and therefore we cannot be certain of anything other than the existence of our own mind. In this case, not only is a reality not what you think it is, but there is no reality at all outside of yourself.

Of course, there have been many arguments against this line of thinking. For instance, if we were creating reality ourselves, then would it not be more likely that we would make one that was more comforting for us, one in which there is no sickness or punishment, or death? Why should these things happen if it is only us? Would it not be in one’s best interest to view these things as the product of an independent world outside of ourselves? Also, are we to believe that everything in all of human history and all culture, music, and art as we know it was entirely conjured up by our own mind?

In response, proponents of this philosophy argue that our dreams can often be indistinguishable from reality when we are having them. They can be extremely deep, persuasive, realistic, and complex, and are not always good dreams, so could reality not be one giant dream projected by us?

Likewise, powerful hallucinogenic drugs can produce visions and experiences that are perceived as very real by the individual undergoing them, yet they are only in that person’s mind, so the argument is that perhaps we are making up an equally realistic reality. In the end, how would we really know the difference?

John Wheeler and Quantum Reality

John Archibald Wheeler (1911-2008) was a scientist-philosopher who introduced the concept of wormholes and coined the term “black hole”. He pioneered the theory of nuclear fission with Niels Bohr and introduced the S-matrix (the scattering matrix used in quantum mechanics). Wheeler devised a concept of quantum foam; a theory of “virtual particles” popping in and out of existence in space (similarly, he conceptualized foam as the foundation of the fabric of the universe).

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In the final decades of his life, the question that intrigued Wheeler most was: “Are life and mind irrelevant to the structure of the universe, or are they central to it?” He suggested that the nature of reality was revealed by the bizarre laws of quantum mechanics. According to the quantum theory, before the observation is made, a subatomic particle exists in several states, called a superposition (or, as Wheeler called it, a ‘smoky dragon’). Once the particle is observed, it instantaneously collapses into a single position.

Wheeler suggested that reality is created by observers and that: “no phenomenon is a real phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon.” He coined the term “Participatory Anthropic Principle

This claim was considered rather outlandish until his thought experiment, known as the “delayed-choice experiment,” was tested in a laboratory in 1984. This experiment was a variation on the famous “double-slit experiment” in which the dual nature of light was exposed (depending on how the experiment was measured and observed, the light behaved like a particle (a photon) or like a wave).

Click here for an interview with John himself about his life and his thoughts.

Johns work has led us toward an offshoot of string theory that appears to unify physics and is a possible theory of everything (TOE) Loop Quantum Gravity.

Whatever your personal subjective view of our reality may be, it has become clear that what we experience it as is not a true description of it and the answer is a good deal more complex the more we examine it.

There are many many theories on the nature of reality, more than we could possibly include here, so we would like to open this discussion to find out what your thoughts are on this subject, are you a realist, how do you explain reality to your inner self? What role does consciousness have on reality? Ultimately what is the nature of reality?

#AGICHAT #futurism #artificialintelligence #debate #singularitynet #emergingtechnologies #futureofgovermance #decentralisation #dao


#2

Reality is a process of identification


#3

Can you elaborate on this @Matthew_Garratt?


#4

Consciousness is the process by which we construct our perceptions in their entirety - so we cannot experience ‘reality’ directly - however, this is not a dream state nor is it a projection. We use the input from our senses to verify our anticipatory construction.

We learn what to construct and how to construct it - in accordance with our pre-conscious experience of reality (i.e. the laws of physics etc.) - during the developmental process of attaining consciousness. Hallucinations are what we experience when the verification process is not working properly.

In other words, we experience life as we dynamically construct it - in our minds - as a process of emergence. We anticipate, verify and adjust in fractions of a second - which probably relies on quantum effects across neurons.

So although we don’t ‘make it up’ - as in a dream - reality is a mind-made construct, which we use to engage with everything we encounter.


#5

Simple: Everything to do with multi-agent systems.

Whatever Marvin Minsky has said is true.

Society of Mind.

Watched all Professor Minsky’s video lectures.


#6

I think reality is the mathematical set that includes the subsets everything and nothing, interacting with each other and themselves at the same time, all the time. This is Pantheism I believe. Science, math, philosophy and religion converge here;
In terms of religious scriptures stating that God is “the everything of the everything, the alpha and the omega” and therefore it simply IS this mathematical set, and we are part of it, so part of “God” in this sense. Trying to measure this fundamental nature of reality will inevitably lead you to what we call a paradox, because it is everything and nothing at the same time all the time and you would just get mathematical nonsense, sort of like white noise.
In math, the higher you go (natural numbers, real numbers, complex numbers, p-addic numbers, etc etc) you get to a point where all axioms and operations just melt into abstraction (1=infinity=2=etc etc) or in other words, reach a paradox. Kind of like when you go right after the big bang and the four forces were all melted into one.
We already know that E=MC^2 and therefore we know we are energy in a medium interacting with itself, so the idea of reality interacting with itself, in this case creating duality to enable the possibility of an experience is analogous and converges with scientific discovery. You need duality to experience otherwise how do you know what happy is if you don’t know what sad is, or positive if there is no negative reference at all? We see duality in our reality (positive negative, matter antimatter, life death). Quantum entanglement and the fact that subatomic particles are perturbations in fields also should tell us that we are fundamentally connected and are essentially a collection of energy perturbations or vibrations in a collection of different fields.
There is plenty on philosophy about this issue; Spinoza, Dostoevsky, Walt Whitman and Alan Watts to name a few who seem to see reality this way.
Psychology advice can be derived from this line of thought on reality as well:
If you believe this model of reality to be true, then life and death are just 2 sides of the same coin, like electricity and magnetism, or good and evil, and therefore are both needed and perfect. Accepting reality is a major thought that psychologists need to get across to people and this is the why.
Another example, every time you interact with someone else you are interacting with yourself, just this is on a higher level or degree (total energy universe). Therefore don’t do things that you don’t want done to you because you are in a way doing it to yourself, you are interacting with yourself to some degree. This model leaves no space for judgment of others because, under it, judgment of others is not really emotionally acting upon this belief because everything just is. This does not mean you don’t hold people accountable, but to do so without passing judgement…that’s quiet the challenge.
Budist concepts also emerge from this model, like the idea of letting go and accepting without a doubt the inevitable finite nature of this experience, because nothingness is part of “God” or reality (synonyms in this model) as well and is equally meaningful and valid as is everything.
Under this model, it just makes sense to get to know yourself because therefore you get to know reality. I like this notion, it’s poetic, beautiful and fits nice with our observations (in my opinion).


#7

Consciousness is being aware of what you’re doing… what’s going on etc, we know this. I think when people ask “what is consciousness”, they really want to get to “why are we conscious”? That still doesn’t answer the question but the frame is more accurate imo. So why then?? Is it to slowly and painfully work towards super intelligence whereby we’ll then get our answer? I think that’s most likely but man, why does it have to take so loonnggggg? Life is pretty boring in the meantime.


#8

What is the reality of nature ? Do trees also experience ideas, thoughts and phantom limbs ?
Do the animals that are not attached to the earth experience the sensation of a separate reality in a more intense way ? When we say, “getting in touch with nature” it seems we are alluding to a return to connectedness, a sort of reunion. When we say, “out of touch with reality” we are referring to disconnectedness. So, I think the discussion has to start with acknowledging that we are a part of a single organism with lots of parts.
It can be proven and the evidence exists, that ideas do not come from individuals, and thoughts are on a schedule. They are derived from external stimuli, and can be tracked and predicted. That said, it is also demonstrable that individual life forms add a unique flavor or texture to ideas and thoughts. The same goes for dreams, which follow the same schedule and the content from a thematic perspective is predictable. Therefore we can assume, for the moment, that the dream world is not a separate reality per say, but perhaps a more pure immersion into it. Thus, the cosmological notion that the dream world is closer to reality than the waking one. It is the freedom to experience the reality, without interference from the senses.
I’m not sure physics and mathematics are the most well suited for the study, but they certainly will be on the team that makes practical applications for the data, as we go along.
I really like Sheldrakes theory of morphic resonance, and the evidence from my own study agrees with that theory. I also like quantum field theory, as much as I can understand it, and it does not seem to disagree with morphic resonance, or the schedule of ideas and thoughts.
My question is this.
If it could be proven, that ideas and thoughts can be predicted, to within an accepted specificity, what would that do to the concept of, or study of, reality ? And if we could do that, would we ?


#9

Reality is what what I’m experiencing is. Reality is what(ever) explains my experience. What explains how it seems (to me/you) is what how it seems is, which is real. For example, what explains solids is what solids are. Solids are real. They are what they seem, because how they seem is what makes them what they are; it is what defines them.


#10

That is an all encompassing question Tim. Reality is only a subjective experience and it changes as we learn. For instance, Egyptian hieroglyphs were just a lot of unexplained picture like symbols to the first modern people who unearthed the ancient tombs. But we now know, through someone’s interpretation, that they are a language. Initially the pyramids were thought to be exotic buriel Chambers, but now it turns out that they are complex, built on golden ratio principles, highly connected to other pyramids across the globe along the same parallels and laid out to intensely accurate mathematical principles. The pyramids themselves are thought to have once generated energy by some lost technology.
Our reality constantly changes. And it changes when new understanding of how the whole of our experience gains understanding and knowledge.
It is a bit chicken and egg theory. Did our reality come from the egg, growing and expanding into our conscious mind. Or did our conscious mind plant the egg of reality that we saw fit to experience as it expanded and grew? Which ever, like the universe itself, our reality constantly expands. It is however, easily manipulated with thought, so our conscious thought about reality changes our perception of how we see reality and then reality becomes solid under our gaze.

:star2::star2::star2:


#11

Reality is only a subjective experience… You will love Wednesdays question :):grin:


#12

Might answer it late. Travelling to Koh Samet. Not sure if I’ll have WiFi. It isn’t anywhere near an AI world in some places… certainly not in huts on beaches. :laughing:


#13

I’m encouraged for humanity by the fact these discussions even arise.
The mystic in me will not even answer. Reality itself is just an experience, what matters is who is the experiencer? I’m not talking about the nature of what we think we are, I’m referring to an undoing. A dropping away of everything we identify with to uncover what’s actually there behind all thought. Through a process of self realization people are going to find out we know absolutely nothing and are made of something unfathomable, beyond the mind’s ideas.