View Poll Results: Is a rainbow a physical object?

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Thread: Is a rainbow a physical object?

  1. Top | #111
    Industrial Grade Linguist Copernicus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    reality is just a vast collection of illusions that our bodies create through interactions with reality.
    This is an illogical statement. Still, I see what you mean.
    It isn't necessarily illogical, if you interpret physical reality as layered supervenience. In that case, there can be more than one aspect to reality, depending on which layer you are anchored in. In this case, no particular layer would be any less "real" than another, since they are all necessarily linked. We can represent different layers as abstract models. So gasses, liquids, and solids can all be made up of the same molecules, but we model them differently because of the way our bodies interact with them. What defines our basic reality is simply our pattern of bodily interaction with the collective behavior of those molecules.

    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    If our senses were different, then we would have a very different set of things we "know" about reality, given that the reality of all things is anchored in perceptions. So how is "omniscience"--an absolute, immutable understanding of everything--even logically possible? There is no way to quantify reality in such a way that a fixed model of it makes any sense. Mental models of physical reality are always going to be relative to some combination of sensory experiences.
    Well, for us, yes. But not necessarily for a god. An omniscient god would know everything without having to rely on perception. We have a model of that with our qualia. It seems to me we know our qualia pretty much like a putative god would omni-know reality. Awesome.
    EB
    If it is only possible to "know" reality by means of interactions, then any being that could know it would need to be able to perceive it and interact with it. That is, such a being could only logically be a being made up of sensors and actuators. The question here is what it means to know reality, and my position would be that gods, as spiritual beings, would lack such equipment from the get-go. One can, of course, merely assert that such beings could exist--sort of like the philosopher's "p-zombie". However, p-zombies are thought experiments with a cooked result. For them to exist, one has to beg the question they were created to answer. The concept of gods only makes sense insofar as they are modeled on animal intelligence. They have minds that think, feel, and act. IOW, they exist in the same reality that human beings do.

  2. Top | #112
    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post

    It isn't necessarily illogical, if you interpret physical reality as layered supervenience. In that case, there can be more than one aspect to reality, depending on which layer you are anchored in. In this case, no particular layer would be any less "real" than another, since they are all necessarily linked. We can represent different layers as abstract models. So gasses, liquids, and solids can all be made up of the same molecules, but we model them differently because of the way our bodies interact with them. What defines our basic reality is simply our pattern of bodily interaction with the collective behavior of those molecules.
    Sure but then it's not reality but this or that layer of reality. You should have said "this layer of reality is just a vast collection of illusions that our bodies create through interactions with that other layer of reality". The point is that if something is an illusion then it can't be the very thing from which the brain will produce this illusion. If reality is an illusion then there's nothing from which the brain could interact with. If reality is an illusion there's no "collective behaviour of molecules". Again, I see what you mean but it's sloppy wording.

    Also, you would need to keep the original concept of reality as the thing that really exist, so definitely not an illusion. Otherwise, it's like claiming God doesn't exist while redefining the word "God" as a fictional character. You end up claiming a fictional character doesn't exist. Which is just daft.

    Still, what you do here is really just what most people do all the time. Fuzzy logic good for uncritical thinking. Convenient for endorsing your own views. I'm sure you can do better than that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    If our senses were different, then we would have a very different set of things we "know" about reality, given that the reality of all things is anchored in perceptions. So how is "omniscience"--an absolute, immutable understanding of everything--even logically possible? There is no way to quantify reality in such a way that a fixed model of it makes any sense. Mental models of physical reality are always going to be relative to some combination of sensory experiences.
    Well, for us, yes. But not necessarily for a god. An omniscient god would know everything without having to rely on perception. We have a model of that with our qualia. It seems to me we know our qualia pretty much like a putative god would omni-know reality. Awesome.
    EB
    If it is only possible to "know" reality by means of interactions, then any being that could know it would need to be able to perceive it and interact with it. That is, such a being could only logically be a being made up of sensors and actuators. The question here is what it means to know reality, and my position would be that gods, as spiritual beings, would lack such equipment from the get-go. One can, of course, merely assert that such beings could exist--sort of like the philosopher's "p-zombie". However, p-zombies are thought experiments with a cooked result. For them to exist, one has to beg the question they were created to answer. The concept of gods only makes sense insofar as they are modeled on animal intelligence. They have minds that think, feel, and act. IOW, they exist in the same reality that human beings do.
    Again, subjective experience provides a ready-made example of knowledge without interaction so there's no good reason to assume interaction is necessary for knowledge. Another way to say it is that while we have a good understanding of perception we have zero understanding of subjective knowledge, so it's just cheap talk to claim omniscience is not possible. And almighty gods like the Christian one are definitely not supposed to be natural phenomena to begin with. The concept of an almighty god makes sense without having to relate it to animal intelligence. Again, all our subjective experience is a good example of something that exists without any apparent relation to the physical world. So I would venture that the notion of almighty gods is more likely based on our subjective experience, unlike Greek gods modelled on people.
    EB

  3. Top | #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    If I can't stand on it, pick it up, or kuck it it is not an object. Therefore by rational scientific reasoning a rainbow is not an object. It is an eternal perceptual illusion, a ghost with no reality. An illusion constructed by the mind.
    This gets more at the heart of where I was going with this thread. Vision is not the only perception that we possess, but it is the perception out of which a rainbow appears to us as an object. Without vision, there would be no rainbows. We can only interact with them as visual objects. Hence, we cannot touch them or even approach them. Our own physical location and perspective are part of what causes them to come into existence. Nevertheless, they are not purely mental constructs (like gods and demons). We have an understanding of the physical conditions that are required for them to appear to us as objects.

    What I think you and some others are missing is the fact that we have more than one sense. Vision is important, but so is touch, smell, taste, hearing, etc. All of those senses play a role in creating the objects that we interact with. Touch is an essential characteristic of tangible objects. Unlike rainbows, we can interact with rocks by touching and manipulating them, if we are physically located close enough to them. So, like rainbows, they are physical objects, but objects with different properties. Not all objects are tangible in the same sense that rocks are, just as not all tangible objects are physically the same. For example, we can touch liquid and gaseous objects, but we don't interact with them in the same way that we interact with solid objects. In fact, from a linguistic perspective, English speakers don't normally use the word "object" to describe liquids and gasses because of their different behaviors with respect to touch.

    So all objects are illusions of one sort or another, but they are still physical. Rainbows are physical illusions, as well. Our mental models of reality are built on a foundation of such illusions. Rocks don't exist except in terms of how we interact with physical reality.

    Now I'll address Lion's question about God. God is a being that has a great many human characteristics, but that being is alleged to have omniscience--absolute knowledge of reality. However, reality is just a vast collection of illusions that our bodies create through interactions with reality. If our senses were different, then we would have a very different set of things we "know" about reality, given that the reality of all things is anchored in perceptions. So how is "omniscience"--an absolute, immutable understanding of everything--even logically possible? There is no way to quantify reality in such a way that a fixed model of it makes any sense. Mental models of physical reality are always going to be relative to some combination of sensory experiences.
    You seem to be overthinking then question. I posted several dictionary definitions of object, which like most words are contextual.

    Look at then rainbow and it s the object of your attention.

    A new view becomes an addition to the list of common usages. Contemplate god and he, she, or it is the object of your thoughts.

    Is a rainbow an object in a Newtonian mechanical sense? Open to debate. The moon is seen as a solid object. Are atomic particles objects? The greeter debate IMO is how we come to arrive at a meaning for a word.

    The moon is a solid object, the ocean is a liquid object.
    My rezoning is as follows. If god interacts with universe then a causal link exists between god and the universe. There fore god has a reality and is therefore an object.
    Last edited by steve_bank; 11-05-2018 at 05:03 AM.

  4. Top | #114
    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    If god interacts with universe then a causal link exists between god and the universe. There fore god has a reality and is therefore an object.
    Maybe God has a reality without being an object for us. That's the point of the concept of God, that it's beyond our usual categories. A God that's not an object for us, in the sense that He would remain beyond our perception and detection capabilities, may still choose to affect our lives, for example according to our morality or something. This would require that we should remain unable to detect His work. A scientist could conceivably correlate bad morality and fate but an almighty God would find it easy to foil any attempt to prove His existence objectively while still working on us to punish and reward or whatever.

    So, rainbows are objects because we can prove their existence objectively, as From argued poorly. Take a picture is good enough in that respect. In effect, there is zero difference between a rock, or more convincingly, a spherical mirror for example, and a rainbow. We all see something different and what we see, even in the case of the rock, is a function of the incident light on the thing. Sure, we can touch and feel a rock or a mirror. But guess what, as already pointed out by others, we can touch and feel a rainbow. We usually don't just like we usually don't touch the Moon, and yet...

    Unless of course what you call a rainbow is like what you call a reflection in a mirror. The "you" you see inside the mirror isn't supposed to be you, right? It's not strictly speaking an object, something with a mass and a temperature for example. Yet, what's the difference with you? It's just you get the image of you out of the reflection in a mirror but it's still you inasmuch as it's you when somebody else is looking "directly" at you. It all comes down to light and the indirect image is just as good as the direct one unless you want to say that all necessarily indirect measures of physical quantities are just as much crap.

    I would summarise by boldly venturing that our mental processes that deal with deciding what are proper objects have been in place long before we could get to see ourselves routinely in mirrors. Thus, evolution didn't take mirrors into account and also led us to believe rainbows are beautiful objects up there in the sky (arc-en-ciel in French).

    That's fascinating.
    EB

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