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 Short Philosophy essay
M Bison
Posted: Feb 10 2009, 11:48 PM


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How things appear to me is only a representation of the way the world is. Discuss.

Representative realism is the theory that we perceive the world through sense data. It is the idea that we do not experience objects directly, rather that we experience a representation of these objects in our minds. So when we experience one of these indirect representations, it may be different to what really exists- for instance, when we place a red rose under sodium lights, it appears grey, as if the colour changes, and yet in reality the rose remains the same. Our sense data can have varying levels of accuracy in this respect.

The theory does have its strong points. It explains the occurrence of illusion and hallucination. If we perceived the world exactly as it was, then surely these things would be as we see them? When we see a stick half submerged in water, and it appears to be bent, surely this must be the case? Representative realism avoids this problem by claiming that sense data can be inaccurate, allowing for such inconsistencies. Another strength in the argument comes in the form of perceptual variation. Far off objects appear smaller to us, and yet in reality this is not the case. Additionally, object viewed from different angles appear as different shapes – a penny from the front looks circular, and yet as we move its shape appears more like an oval until it appeared completely rectangular from the side, however in reality the shape of the penny has not changed at all. Science also backs this argument in some respects, as a number of scientific discoveries and theories show us that we do not perceive the world exactly as it is. For instance, there are in reality no colours, everything is made up of colourless atoms and we only see them as colours due to the way the light reflects off them. Finally, the occurrence of time lags provides Representative Realism with further strength, drawing our attention to an events occurrence and our experience of it. When we look to the sun, we actually see the sun as it was eight minutes prior. If the sun ceased to exist, our visual perception of it would not change for another eight minutes. Surely if we experienced objects exactly as they are, this would be untrue?

However, Representative Realism is not without its flaws. The nature of sense data is unclear, and not fully explained. John Locke claimed that it contained the same properties as the objects it represented. For instance, looking at a red, square box would create sense data that was also red and square. This makes no sense - as a purely mental object, sense data takes up no space, and cannot truly be coloured. Representative Realists get around this by claiming that Locke’s definition is wrong, and that sense data does not resemble the object but merely represents it in our mind. However, there is another problem. If all we experience is sense data, how can we know how close to reality our perceptions are? Can we be sure that reality exists at all? Representative Realists can claim in response that sense data does not come between us and the real world, but merely serves as a passageway, however this confuses the definition of just what sense data is even more. Another weakness of the theory is just how complicated it is. It is so much simpler to assume that our perceptions are exactly how the world it and the Ockham’s razor argument is to merely choose the simplest option.

Representative Realism can be compared to Naive Realism. Naive Realism is the idea that all we perceive is exactly as it exists in reality, and there are no further complications. However, much of what makes Representative Realism a strong argument weakens this one. Under Naive Realism, we must accept that illusions are reality, that object really do shrink as we move away from them, and that many of the discoveries made by science are simply wrong. However, Naive Realism has strengths also. It leaves no basis for scepticism – with no sense data to get in the way, we can be sure that the world exists and is how we experience it, for instance a red rose in a field truly is a red rose in reality. Also, the view is simple common sense – it is what the majority of the people in the world believe to be true.

The idea that what we perceive is merely a representation of reality holds a lot of strength. It explains away many of the problems we have in assuming otherwise, such as illusions, and its weaknesses are not as crippling as those for Naive Realists. Its strengths are greater also, allowing more thought that simply choosing the simplest option.


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Jailer411
Posted: Feb 11 2009, 12:06 AM


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I've read it, and you presented you perception well. Also, details were included to back you up. I liked it. Oh, and are you in Europe, because you spelled color with a "u"?


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Pseudonym
Posted: Feb 11 2009, 12:13 AM


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lolz, written in british English.

I think it's amazing, the only problem is; you say colo(u)r doesn't exist.

Yes it does, to argue that color doesn't exist, is to argue that there is no light.

The idea that our esnses may be- abd often are- incorrect is not a new one, but to debate it is interesting.

The way I see it is; Reality is the collection of the sensory perceptions of the human race.


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Jailer411
Posted: Feb 11 2009, 12:20 AM


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QUOTE (Pseudonym @ Feb 10 2009, 06:13 PM)
lolz, written in british English.

I think it's amazing, the only problem is; you say colo(u)r doesn't exist.

Yes it does, to argue that color doesn't exist, is to argue that there is no light.

The idea that our esnses may be- abd often are- incorrect is not a new one, but to debate it is interesting.

The way I see it is; Reality is the collection of the sensory perceptions of the human race.

Have you read this? Because what you said was what Bison meant to say the whole essay. And color does not truly exist on its own, it's a side effect of how an object reflects certain particles of light. We then percieve the object to be the color that our eyes and mind attach it to.


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Pseudonym
Posted: Feb 11 2009, 12:23 AM


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To say that color doesn't exist means that reflections don't exist.

While I can't smell, hear, feel, or talk to my reflection, it still exists in one form or another.

Thus, color exists.


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Jailer411
Posted: Feb 11 2009, 12:26 AM


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QUOTE (Pseudonym @ Feb 10 2009, 06:23 PM)
To say that color doesn't exist means that reflections don't exist.

While I can't smell, hear, feel, or talk to my reflection, it still exists in one form or another.

Thus, color exists.

You are right about reflection, because we do not perceive it as our own, it truly exists. Although, color does not equal reflection. The color is a side effect from light that our eyes register. Think of color blind animals, they see the world as it truly is.


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Pseudonym
Posted: Feb 11 2009, 12:28 AM


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Umm, color blind animals/people can't see color. They can't see certain wavelengths of light.

You aren't going to tell me that light doesn't exist. Not only does light exist, but parts of it exist as well.


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Jailer411
Posted: Feb 11 2009, 12:33 AM


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QUOTE (Pseudonym @ Feb 10 2009, 06:28 PM)
Umm, color blind animals/people can't see color. They can't see certain wavelengths of light.

You aren't going to tell me that light doesn't exist. Not only does light exist, but parts of it exist as well.

But light doesn't equal color! Color is the side effect that our eyes are able to register, because objects react to different wavelength in the electromagnetic spectrum. That is why light is the only wave we can see color through, it's a side effect, something that our eyes and mind let us see! It is only an illusion. Take for example, in the night, everyone has dark skin. You would say that this is because it's dark out, but our mind still percieves it. So you can't judge your skin color by day light, because the colors change with light. Making it an illusion brought about by our eyes.


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Pseudonym
Posted: Feb 11 2009, 12:39 AM


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Look at it this way.

Red wavelengths of light are shortest.
There ARE wavelengths that short.
These wavelengths are called RED

Red is a color. I don't understand how you mean. What you say is the equivalent of saying,

"There is no such thing as apples, just red edible fruit growing from that one tree."

That is an apple, and Color is PRODUCED by light which obviously exists.



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M Bison
Posted: Feb 11 2009, 12:40 AM


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Yes, I'm English, hence "colour".


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http://hamish-campbell.mybrute.com
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Jailer411
Posted: Feb 11 2009, 12:43 AM


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QUOTE (Pseudonym @ Feb 10 2009, 06:39 PM)
Look at it this way.

Red wavelengths of light are shortest.
There ARE wavelengths that short.
These wavelengths are called RED

Red is a color. I don't understand how you mean. What you say is the equivalent of saying,

"There is no such thing as apples, just red edible fruit growing from that one tree."

That is an apple, and Color is PRODUCED by light which obviously exists.

Those wavelengths are called red, because they produce the illusion of the color red! So apples are only red because they reflect infared particles. Our eye then percieves this, and puts it in thre form of color. Different wavelengths make our eyes see colors, so it is an illusion.


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Pseudonym
Posted: Feb 11 2009, 12:49 AM


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QUOTE
Those wavelengths are called red, because they produce the illusion of the color red


Um, yeah I guess.

Of course they produce the illusion of being red. But that gets into what is illusion and what isn't.

Metaphysical things like is this world reality.

But yeah, In the universe where we live.

Things that return the wavelength red give off the color red. "As an illusion" You say, but I don't seem to get it.


Apples are red because they absorb all colors other than Red. Red wavelengths bounce off and are seen by people.

So far real right, wavelengths are real.

The brain takes these wavelengths and interprets them as what we see as red.

So yes, color is just the brain's interpretation of light wavelengths; But all of sight is just the brain interpreting stuff.


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Jailer411
Posted: Feb 11 2009, 12:53 AM


The one and only.


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QUOTE (Pseudonym @ Feb 10 2009, 06:49 PM)

Um, yeah I guess.

Of course they produce the illusion of being red. But that gets into what is illusion and what isn't.

Metaphysical things like is this world reality.

But yeah, In the universe where we live.

Things that return the wavelength red give off the color red. "As an illusion" You say, but I don't seem to get it.


Apples are red because they absorb all colors other than Red. Red wavelengths bounce off and are seen by people.

So far real right, wavelengths are real.

The brain takes these wavelengths and interprets them as what we see as red.

So yes, color is just the brain's interpretation of light wavelengths; But all of sight is just the brain interpreting stuff.

Okay so far we agreed on wavelengths being real, and the brain interpreting light. Now, when the brain interprets light, it also interprets the type of wavelength. An apple reacts with the red wavelength, making the apple seem red when the brain interprets the light coming off it.


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Pseudonym
Posted: Feb 11 2009, 12:55 AM


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Yeah, and your monitor SEEMS to be on your desk because that's how your brain interprets it.

your point? That doesn't mean that your monitor doesn't exist.

I'm researching now.


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Jailer411
Posted: Feb 11 2009, 01:02 AM


The one and only.


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QUOTE (Pseudonym @ Feb 10 2009, 06:55 PM)
Yeah, and your monitor SEEMS to be on your desk because that's how your brain interprets it.

your point? That doesn't mean that your monitor doesn't exist.

I'm researching now.

That's because the monitor really is on my desk. Your eyes can make you see things two different ways, if it really exists, or if it is an illusion. An example of an illusion, color!


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