Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Further Refutation

...of the Brain in a Jar hypothesis (ie. the Matrix theory).

Some may not have been swayed by my discussion of Descartes and the nature of objective reality; they could well claim that even if there is such a reality, it would be beyond the perception of and thus irrelevant to the BiaJ. And quite right they are that such a brain would not experience the objective reality but would instead perceive an entirely subjective reality.

So where does the relevance of objectivity come from? Well, apart from the fact that we could plausibly be brains in jars, what evidence is there AT ALL that this is in fact the case? Similar to the Truth as Opinion post below - just because something is plausible does not make it true. Especially when there is, by definition, not a shred of evidence to support it.

Furthermore, so what if it is ultimately revealed that the world we experience is in fact psychologically engineered? Without the evidence to support such a claim and with it instead wholly pointing towards our perceived reality (remember that this is evidence, not conjecture) as the true one, we should rationally accept that we experience the true reality. It may turn out that the skeptics are right, that the true objective reality is beyond our perception, but we currently have as little reason as they do to believe this is the case. Namely, none.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Opinion ≠ Truth

Today's thoughts:

As one might say in an unnecessarily obscure reference, "hey guys what's going o-BLARGH!". My politics exam is in three days and thus I've found it necessary to contemplate all aspects of life except political theory.

One observation that has cropped up a lot seems to be the implicit assumption that the truth is a matter of opinion. In mainstream public discourse this is never overtly stated - no one says "there is no objective truth, we are all the gods of our little solipsistic universe, let's pack in all this interaction and just use our psychic powers to create the universe that is perfect for just ourselves". No one says that. Because it's retarded and demonstrably untrue*. However, we give creedence to this suggestion when we allow opinion, as a standalone concept, to enter our enquiry into truth - whether it's specifically religion or simply any supernatural, unscientific concept.

This is particularly demonstrable in our understanding of history. "History is written by the victors", it is often said and this is doubtless true. However, what many people mistakenly take from this aphorism is the idea that it is the past itself, rather than humanity's cataloguing of it, that is subjective. The past happened: it is solid, immutable fact. We can see this from the causal effect it has on later events, right up until the present (if you're a determinist, you keep going into the future). If the past was fluid there would be no tangible present, because there would be no foundations for our current reality.

Yet this is exactly what is implied when people reject scientific analysis. We don't (and indeed, can't without time travel) know for sure what happened in the past, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. Evolutionists have pieced together our best understanding of the origin of the species based on observable evidence, but still creationists believe that their opinion is more worthy because anything else conflicts with their beliefs. What monstrous arrogance. Yet we validate this when we give them equal time in a discussion. We promote the virulent idea, and this is one that is rapidly spreading in just such a fashion, that belief is just as valid as evidence. We're implying that there is no truth, no reality and this implication is itself nothing but the beginning of a slide into the misery, despair and suffering of another Dark Age.

Actually no. It's maybe two-fifths of the way into such a slide.

*(Rejection of subjective reality) Descartes sought to find just one utterly incontrovertible truth, and believed that with this anchor he could draw further truths about reality. Whether or not he was successful in the latter endeavour, he certainly found his ultimate truth. "I think, therefore I am". Inescapably, you exist. Even if you live in a Matrix-like world where your every perception is in fact carefully engineered and not objective at all (Descartes imagined a demon in this role, existing as he did before psychotic self-aware computer systems) you cannot get past the fact that to experience this engineered reality you must still exist. To exist there must be an objective reality, even though you may never experience it. QED.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Emotional Revisionism

Now I'm happy. There's no accounting for taste.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Emotional Voyeurism

Somewhat against my better judgement, but otherwise with a dearth of creativity, I've decided to log my recent emotions and psychological tropes. It's a chance to break the mould, despite the fact nearly every post I've written has been breaking the mould I've already set myself. I should point out at this juncture that my current mood is uniformly negative - this glumness is no doubt what's motivating this post. Still, it's never been more apt to say...

Today's thoughts:

- Lonely. Quite apart from Anna's absence (we shall get to all the derivative emotions of the Annabsence shortly) I've found myself rather alone over the past week. There've been one or two people whose company I've enjoyed greatly, but other than that I've simply not seen anyone. Most people are too busy and the ones that weren't cancelled on me anyway. This absence of interaction is really not good for me.

- Friendless. Having recently spent an excellent night of revelry and debate with my best friend, I was shocked to reflect on our discussion and realise that he is in fact a Burkean conservative. This may not matter (or even mean anything) to most but it's really shaken me - I'm a passionate altruist and am thus genuinely unsure of how to connect with someone who's so vehemently against changing the status quo. Stupid? Petty, even? Doubtless, but it's still getting to me days later.

- Ennui (it's not an adjective but fuck it). I currently find myself damned to relentless purgatory, where a combination of friendlessness, fatigue and obligation to study have prevented me from really doing anything. That's not to say I've actually achieved any study - I'm just trapped at home trying to convince myself I'm a diligent student. When there really, truly is nothing to do all day, a kind of listless yet nagging feeling sets in and effectively puts a kibosh on enthusiasm or interest. Nothing can hold my attention for more than about fifteen minutes (I'm typing quickly). As a result I've become obsessed with finding something to do, such that I find myself blogging at 4am rather than sleeping (which is stupid, because sleeping is the most efficient pastime there is).

- Bereft. Anna has for two or so months been on a magical mystery tour of world, while I've been diligently studying (ha!) at home. This has been fantastic for her, obviously, and even rather good for me - it's reaffirmed just how passionately I care about our relationship. However, I got over that reaffirmation roughly one month ago and am now just feeling miserable. Studies done (and then reported about on show that love - that ethereal thing - acts much like an addiction and time spent away from its object actually causes withdrawal-like symptoms. So that's my excuse.

- Jealous. This has quite markedly never been an aspect of our relationship - to the extent where people feel moved to comment on and even encourage it. It's just never been a problem... until now (dun dun dun!!). I assume this is just a derivative of the bereft-ness, but I'm really lashing out against any strangers I see her meeting or acquaintences I see her making. I don't like it and I'm desperately worried it might become a permanent fixture. Fuck.

- Sexually frustrated. Really don't need to explain this one, but it's got to the stage where other people's sex lives piss me off. Even just oblique references make me fume, and this guy's really not helping.

That's it for my mope. I am unapologetic - sometimes it's good to get your anxieties out into the world. Isn't that what psychologists say? Advertise your emotional vulnerability through the most public medium possible? I'm pretty sure that's right.

TL;DR - I have emotions. In the finest musical tradition, too many negative ones have compelled me to share them with an unprepared and unwilling audience.