How VR reframes big questions + Philosophy can make previously unthinkable thinkable

#1
New realities are imminent: how VR reframes big questions in philosophy (video)
https://aeon.co/videos/new-realities-are...philosophy

INTRO: The virtual reality (VR) industry is currently in its infancy, but in just a few decades it’s possible that virtual environments will be nearly indistinguishable from reality. Along with transforming everyday life, a VR revolution could fundamentally change how we understand and define what is real. In this installment of Aeon In Sight, the renowned Australian philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers considers how VR is reframing and shedding new light on some of philosophy’s most enduring questions about cognition, epistemology and the nature of reality.

VIDEO: https://aeon.co/videos/new-realities-are...philosophy



Philosophy can make the previously unthinkable thinkable
https://aeon.co/ideas/philosophy-can-mak...-thinkable

INTRO: In the mid-1990s, Joseph Overton, a researcher at the US think tank the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, proposed the idea of a ‘window’ of socially acceptable policies within any given domain. This came to be known as the Overton window of political possibilities. The job of think tanks, Overton proposed, was not directly to advocate particular policies, but to shift the window of possibilities so that previously unthinkable policy ideas – those shocking to the sensibilities of the time – become mainstream and part of the debate.

Overton’s insight was that there is little point advocating policies that are publicly unacceptable, since (almost) no politician will support them. Efforts are better spent, he argued, in shifting the debate so that such policies seem less radical and become more likely to receive support from sympathetic politicians. For instance, working to increase awareness of climate change might make future proposals to restrict the use of diesel cars more palatable, and ultimately more effective, than directly lobbying for a ban on such vehicles.

Overton was concerned with the activities of think tanks, but philosophers and practical ethicists might gain something from considering the Overton window. By its nature, practical ethics typically addresses controversial, politically sensitive topics. It is the job of philosophers to engage in ‘conceptual hygiene’ or, as the late British philosopher Mary Midgley described it, ‘philosophical plumbing’: clarifying and streamlining, diagnosing unjustified assertions and pointing out circularities.

Hence, philosophers can be eager to apply their skills to new subjects. This can provoke frustration from those embedded within a particular subject. Sometimes, this is deserved: philosophers can be naive in contributing their thoughts to complex areas with which they lack the kind of familiarity that requires time and immersion. But such an outside perspective can also be useful. Although such contributions will rarely get everything right, the standard is too demanding in areas of great division and debate (such as practical ethics). Instead, we should expect philosophers to offer a counterpoint to received wisdom, established norms and doctrinal prejudice.

Ethicists, at least within their academic work, are encouraged to be skeptical of intuition and the naturalistic fallacy (the idea that values can be derived simply from facts). Philosophers are also familiar with tools such as thought experiments: hypothetical and contrived descriptions of events that can be useful for clarifying particular intuitions or the implications of a philosophical claim. These two factors make it unsurprising that philosophers often publicly adopt positions that are unintuitive and outside mainstream thought, and that they might not personally endorse.

This can serve to shift, and perhaps widen, the Overton window. Is this a good thing? Sometimes philosophers argue for conclusions far outside the domain of ‘respectable’ positions; conclusions that could be hijacked by those with intolerant, racist, sexist or fundamentalist beliefs to support their stance. It is understandable that those who are threatened by such beliefs want any argument that might conceivably support them to be absent from the debate, off the table, and ignored.

However, the freedom to test the limits of argumentation and intuition is vital to philosophical practice. There are sufficient and familiar examples of historical orthodoxies that have been overturned – women’s right to vote; the abolition of slavery; the decriminalisation of same-sex relationships – to establish that strength and pervasiveness of a belief indicate neither truth nor immutability....

MORE: https://aeon.co/ideas/philosophy-can-mak...-thinkable
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#2
(Jan 29, 2019 01:44 AM)C C Wrote: In this installment of Aeon In Sight, the renowned Australian philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers considers how VR is reframing and shedding new light on some of philosophy’s most enduring questions about cognition, epistemology and the nature of reality.
Only for those unfamiliar with longstanding philosophical issues, like the "brain in a vat" thought experiment...that basically covers all the philosophical ground available to VR. Is Chalmers going senile?
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#3
Isn't reality only merely a perception? If we experience something, isn't that reality? It would have to be, so even ''virtual'' reality would seem real under those pretenses.
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#4
(Jan 31, 2019 04:38 AM)Leigha Wrote: Isn't reality only merely a perception? If we experience something, isn't that reality? It would have to be, so even ''virtual'' reality would seem real under those pretenses.

Reality is only your perception if you believe in solipsism, that your own mind is all you can know for sure and that the external world and other minds might not exist.
Otherwise, your perceptions could be mistaken and you can only verify them against the experiences of others, reality being the mutual agreement.
But yes, either way, virtual reality presents the exact same philosophical questions about epistemology....except for the fact that we know it's virtual.
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#5
(Jan 31, 2019 04:38 AM)Leigha Wrote: Isn't reality only merely a perception? If we experience something, isn't that reality? It would have to be, so even ''virtual'' reality would seem real under those pretenses.


A contended difference between VR and SR (simulated reality), is that the former is known to be of artificial origin -- can be either recognized or remembered as such. Aside from its superior standards, successful SR would seem to require near-perfect mimicking of its "transcendent level" in order to deceive a participant; or the latter be endowed with amnesia and potentially quasi-fake memories if SR sports a modified or wholly different world than ours.

Of course, if all or many of the other inhabitants of the simulated reality had inner conscious lives (were not just smartly behaving props), then arguably it could be construed a legit reality (though subject to destruction). Which is to say, who cares about the ontological status of the non-biological objects being more than information patterns or "semi-permanent possibilities of experience", anyway, since they lack both phenomenal and verbal awareness of their own existence.

The evidence for our usual "external world" of perception is just the brute fact that it is "shown" (as images, sounds, odors, etc). In contrast to an absent manner of existence (non-phenomenal or non-conscious being). The experienced universe's "government" outruns any particular personal observer from the standpoint that the latter can't control those outer situations in terms of his or her will alone (private commands and wishes). It's overall coherence or internal consistency is part of that formulaic cosmic management (compare to the unreliability of dreams).

The "external world" that rationalist thought has been fixated on for millennia is not manifested by sensation. It is inferred, conceived and described in rival ways -- relying on intellectual "evidence" (reasoning, argument, regulated speculation). Inevitably that school deems the empirical reality of experience to be an inaccurate representation of a "true world" (or in some cases purely generated by a hidden level, minus the imitating of an archetype).

Methodological naturalism (AKA science) uses experiments and quantitative guidance to bridge experience and rational slash theoretical activity, to catalog and predict and manage events and output knowledge that can be exploited (technology).

Ontological naturalism (rubbing shoulders with scientism) may take the results and constructs of such research and modeling and treat them as concerning its "true" external world (a metaphysical orientation). However, such hard-core believers can't just stop the momentum of their scientific realism at whichever point it becomes personally uncomfortable and too bizarre to deserve the label of "reality" anymore. (What kind of half-hearted belief in reason's version of existence would that be?). So everyday objects may peter-out into fluctuating magnitudes in quantum fields or be residents in the holographic spatiotemporal hallucination of entangled qubits. Depending upon whatever popular, mathematical species has been long-lived or reigns in a particular era.

The point is that the supposed "external world" of philosophical naturalism (if coupled to physics as its informer/updater), erodes away into weirdo abstraction. Leaving just experienced reality again as what qualifies as that (what we originally started with, what "existence" and related concepts were extracted from to begin with).

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#6
(Jan 31, 2019 08:58 AM)C C Wrote: The point is that the supposed "external world" of philosophical naturalism (if coupled to physics as its informer/updater), erodes away into weirdo abstraction.  Leaving just experienced reality again as what qualifies as that (what we originally started with, what "existence" and related concepts were extracted from to begin with).

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Yes, reality is an inherently slippery slope, isn’t it, C C?

Here’s a new word (for me at least). Katalepsis in Stoic philosophy it meant comprehension.

Quote:Stoic philosophy of the Mind

Although we may entertain and experience all sorts of presentations, we do not necessarily accept or respond to them all. Hence the Stoics held that some phantasiai receive assent and some do not. Assent occurs when the mind accepts a phantasia as true (or more accurately accepts the subsisting lekton as true). Assent is also a specifically human activity, that is, it assume the power of reason. Although the truth value of a proposition is binary, true or false, there are various levels of recognizing truth. According to the Stoics, opinion (doxa) is a weak or false belief. The sage avoids opinions by withholding assent when conditions do not permit a clear and certain grasp of the truth of a matter. Some presentations experienced in perceptually ideal circumstances, however, are so clear and distinct that they could only come from a real object; these were said to be kataleptikê (fit to grasp). The kataleptic presentation compels assent by its very clarity and, according to some Stoics, represents the criterion for truth. The mental act of apprehending the truth in this way was called katalepsis which means having a firm epistemic grasp.

Marth C. Nussbaum mentioned it in one of her books. I’m not sure of the correct spelling but I think 'catalepsis' is an entirely different word.

Quote:The Stoic philosopher Zeno argued that all out knowledge of the external world is built upon the foundation of certain special perceptual impressions: those which, by their own internal character, their own experienced quality, certify their own veracity. From (or in) assent to such impressions, we get the cataleptic condition, a condition of certainty and confidence from which nothing can dislodge us. On the basis of such certainties is built all science, natural, and ethical. The cataleptic impression is said to have the power, just through its own felt quality, to drag us to assent, to convince us that things could not be otherwise. Zeno compares its closure and certainty to a closed fist; it’s that firm, there’s no room for opposition.—Martha C. Nussbaum

Acatalepsy:  an ancient Skeptic doctrine that human knowledge amounts only to probability and never to certainty. 

I think that's more in line with today's standards. Absolute truth doesn’t exist in real science. It simply seeks evidence to support or refute a hypothesis.

A clenched fist? Possessiveness of truth and a closed mind reminds me of Nietzsche's "SUPPOSING that Truth is a woman--what then?"
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#7
(Jan 31, 2019 05:24 PM)Secular Sanity Wrote: Yes, reality is an inherently slippery slope, isn’t it, C C?

Here’s a new word (for me at least). Katalepsis in Stoic philosophy it meant comprehension.

[...] Marth C. Nussbaum mentioned it in one of her books. I’m not sure of the correct spelling but I think 'catalepsis' is an entirely different word.

[...] Acatalepsy:  an ancient Skeptic doctrine that human knowledge amounts only to probability and never to certainty. 

I think that's more in line with today's standards. Absolute truth doesn’t exist in real science. It simply seeks evidence to support or refute a hypothesis.


The accuracy or effectiveness of how one interprets, understands, and even emotionally associates with the appearances (manifestations) in the external/public half of experience is indeed a briar patch within everyday reality itself. But at least standards can be worked out as to what works and what doesn't (contingently if not universally). With the earliest of such being basic survival-related rather than additionally having to cognitively navigate through all the invented complexities of later, advanced human society/civilization.

Quote:A clenched fist? Possessiveness of truth and a closed mind reminds me of Nietzsche's "SUPPOSING that Truth is a woman--what then?"

Couldn't get the marxists.org link to work (site may be temporarily down). EDIT: Worked around it the long way.

"It amounted to the very inversion of truth, and the denial of the PERSPECTIVE--the fundamental condition--of life...." In so far as the word "knowledge" has any meaning, the world is knowable; but it is interpretable otherwise, it has no meaning behind it, but countless meanings.—"Perspectivism."

"Perspectivism" as against "objective metaphysics" and ultimate truths, with the latter driven by the "lust to rule" or setting up power structures and their academic dogma, the individual pre-conditioning of being For or Against _X_ norms, etc... was part of the influential ancestry of 20th-century postmodernist thought. (Setting aside the issue of whether or not the latter would be something Nietzsche would have been comfortable with.)

Of course, there were other movements against metaphysics in general, like positivism.

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#8
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#9
(Jan 31, 2019 07:09 PM)C C Wrote:
(Jan 31, 2019 05:24 PM)Secular Sanity Wrote: Yes, reality is an inherently slippery slope, isn’t it, C C?

Here’s a new word (for me at least). Katalepsis in Stoic philosophy it meant comprehension.

[...] Marth C. Nussbaum mentioned it in one of her books. I’m not sure of the correct spelling but I think 'catalepsis' is an entirely different word.

[...] Acatalepsy:  an ancient Skeptic doctrine that human knowledge amounts only to probability and never to certainty. 

I think that's more in line with today's standards. Absolute truth doesn’t exist in real science. It simply seeks evidence to support or refute a hypothesis.


The accuracy or effectiveness of how one interprets, understands, and even emotionally associates with the appearances (manifestations) in the external/public half of experience is indeed a briar patch within everyday reality itself. But at least standards can be worked out as to what works and what doesn't (contingently if not universally). With the earliest of such being basic survival-related rather than additionally having to cognitively navigate through all the invented complexities of later, advanced human society/civilization.

Quote:A clenched fist? Possessiveness of truth and a closed mind reminds me of Nietzsche's "SUPPOSING that Truth is a woman--what then?"

Couldn't get the marxists.org link to work (site may be temporarily down). EDIT: Worked around it the long way.

"It amounted to the very inversion of truth, and the denial of the PERSPECTIVE--the fundamental condition--of life...." In so far as the word "knowledge" has any meaning, the world is knowable; but it is interpretable otherwise, it has no meaning behind it, but countless meanings.—"Perspectivism."

"Perspectivism" as against "objective metaphysics" and ultimate truths, with the latter driven by the "lust to rule" or setting up power structures and their academic dogma, the individual pre-conditioning of being For or Against _X_ norms, etc... was part of the influential ancestry of 20th-century postmodernist thought. (Setting aside the issue of whether or not the latter would be something Nietzsche would have been comfortable with.)

Of course, there were other movements against metaphysics in general, like positivism.

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Thanks, C C.
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