View Poll Results: Is a rainbow a physical object?

Voters
17. You may not vote on this poll
  • Yes

    10 58.82%
  • No

    3 17.65%
  • Yes and No

    4 23.53%
  • I don't know

    0 0%
Page 3 of 12 FirstFirst 12345 ... LastLast
Results 21 to 30 of 114

Thread: Is a rainbow a physical object?

  1. Top | #21
    Industrial Grade Linguist Copernicus's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Bellevue, WA
    Posts
    2,241
    Rep Power
    11
    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    Like most questions in philosophy, there is a very simple answer. The problem is that philosophers disagree on the meaning of the question. If first they would all agree on the definition of the words physical and object then the answer becomes obvious.
    Getting people to agree on meaning, even the meaning of what we think of as precise concepts, is illusory. We all have similar, but different, experiences of the world, so an expression like "physical object" is going to have a range of meaning that varies across contexts of usage. The best we can do is agree on broad slices of similar experiences when we debate the meaning of words. So we get a range of different reactions to questions like the one in the OP.

    Unter has an interesting approach because of his focus on a perceptual description. We can contrast his approach with Bilby's, which focuses on a non-perceptual physical description. Both are reasonable ways to look at the problem, but from different ends of the range of components that go into our understanding of what a rainbow is. We have a physical model for describing the perception--rods and cones in the structure of the eye, photons that trigger neural activity, the subjective experience of color (or shades of gray).

    The essential fact about a rainbow is that it cannot exist without an act of perception. There has to be a perceiver with the right sensory equipment. There has to be an external event that causes the perception (or, at a minimum, a hallucination--perception triggered by something other than incoming sensory input). Two different people standing next to each other can be said to see the same rainbow, but two people standing a kilometer apart will be seeing different rainbows (or none), depending of the refraction of light through the atmosphere. A camera can record the event and be used to reproduce an image of it later. So the phenomenon is definitely real, but it is also an illusion of circumstance.

    The philosophical issue here is whether any physical object is fundamentally different from a rainbow. Remember that tables and chickens appear to exist even when nobody is observing them, but it would seem to be impossible for a rainbow to exist independently of an observer. So one is tempted to say that a rainbow is not a physical object in the same way, but it is still a physical object. So maybe BWE's "yes and no" response begins to make more sense.

  2. Top | #22
    Elder Contributor
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Here
    Posts
    21,766
    Archived
    16,553
    Total Posts
    38,319
    Rep Power
    72
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    How do you know that the table is still there if nobody sees it?

    We're doing philosophy, right?
    You can touch a table.

    But the question is about a rainbow.

    If there is no color are you talking about a rainbow?

  3. Top | #23
    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Northern Ireland
    Posts
    5,505
    Rep Power
    13
    Does a camera detect non-physical things? I don't think so. How would it do that? It's just a camera. Something hits the sensor, right?

  4. Top | #24
    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Northern Ireland
    Posts
    5,505
    Rep Power
    13
    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    So maybe BWE's "yes and no" response begins to make more sense.
    Not so fast. Ask him if a table exists.

  5. Top | #25
    Industrial Grade Linguist Copernicus's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Bellevue, WA
    Posts
    2,241
    Rep Power
    11
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    How do you know that the table is still there if nobody sees it?

    We're doing philosophy, right?
    You, being from Ireland, would drag Bishop Berkeley into this, wouldn't you? Phooey! You do know that he went mad in the end, don't you?

  6. Top | #26
    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Northern Ireland
    Posts
    5,505
    Rep Power
    13
    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    How do you know that the table is still there if nobody sees it?

    We're doing philosophy, right?
    You, being from Ireland, would drag Bishop Berkeley into this, wouldn't you? Phooey! You do know that he went mad in the end, don't you?
    It's impossible for an Irishman to go mad. We could just say he was Irish and that would cover it.

  7. Top | #27
    Elder Contributor
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Here
    Posts
    21,766
    Archived
    16,553
    Total Posts
    38,319
    Rep Power
    72
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    Does a camera detect non-physical things? I don't think so. How would it do that? It's just a camera. Something hits the sensor, right?
    What looks at the product of a camera?

    With no ability to discern color or shades of grey you can take all the pictures you want.

    You will never think a rainbow is there.

  8. Top | #28
    Industrial Grade Linguist Copernicus's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Bellevue, WA
    Posts
    2,241
    Rep Power
    11
    So folks appear to want to focus on the table and ignore the chicken. Fine. Can the table exist independently of an observer? I'm not going to do the Berkeley thing about tables disappearing when nobody is observing them. That is absurd. But is it absurd that a table can exist independently of a mind to become aware of it and conceive of it as a table? IOW, is it not true that every physical object is like a rainbow? If every living thing on Earth were to suddenly disappear, would rocks cease to exist? If so, do rocks exist on all those planets out there with no life on them? (Wait, is that what Berkeley was trying to say?)

  9. Top | #29
    Elder Contributor
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Here
    Posts
    21,766
    Archived
    16,553
    Total Posts
    38,319
    Rep Power
    72
    Quote Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
    So folks appear to want to focus on the table and ignore the chicken. Fine. Can the table exist independently of an observer? I'm not going to do the Berkeley thing about tables disappearing when nobody is observing them. That is absurd. But is it absurd that a table can exist independently of a mind to become aware of it and conceive of it as a table? IOW, is it not true that every physical object is like a rainbow? If every living thing on Earth were to suddenly disappear, would rocks cease to exist?
    We can believe a table exists independently of our mind and that is a fruitful speculation.

    But we can never prove the table is there.

    All we have are our subjective experiences, even if it is the experience of pain and blood as the Hulk smashes the table over our head.

    All we can have are our subjective experiences.

    We can never have the objective table, only a belief it is there.

  10. Top | #30
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    a pretty sidestreet in Happiness
    Posts
    203
    Archived
    624
    Total Posts
    827
    Rep Power
    45
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    How do you know that the table is still there if nobody sees it?

    We're doing philosophy, right?
    You can only ever know what your model predicts. Confidence in your predictions leads to confidence in your ontology. That doesn't mean in any way that an ontology is "correct", just that it is useful.

Similar Threads

  1. Colours in the rainbow, etc
    By excreationist in forum Miscellaneous Discussions
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 04-20-2019, 05:44 AM
  2. A Man Tried To Reclaim The Rainbow & It Did Not Go Well For Him
    By Potoooooooo in forum General Religion
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 08-02-2017, 02:28 PM
  3. Can there be an object without any subject?
    By ontological_realist in forum Logic and Epistemology
    Replies: 199
    Last Post: 06-05-2015, 07:51 PM
  4. Reading Rainbow Kickstarter
    By Joni-san in forum Media & Culture Gallery
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 05-31-2014, 08:34 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •