Industrial Grade Linguist
- May 28, 2017
- Bellevue, WA
- Basic Beliefs
- Atheist humanist
Technically, everything is an illusion, since our models of reality are all interpretations of sense data.
The term "model" is correct. The brain organizes sensory data into a model of reality consisting of objects and events. When the model is accurate enough to be useful, as when we navigate our bodies through a doorway, then we call that "reality", because the model is our only access to reality. It is only when the model is inaccurate enough to cause a problem, as when we walk into a glass door thinking it is open, that the word "illusion" is appropriate.
The notions of "reality" and "illusion" are used to make that important distinction.
That depends on how we use the words. Normally, we use "illusion" to refer to a perceptual experience that causes us to misconstrue reality, such as when we walk into a glass door because of the visual illusion caused by the transparency of glass. Glass is solid. However, it is also liquid, because it flows like a liquid over time. And water is not so solid, because we can move our bodies through it. Unless, of course, your body is moving very fast when it comes into contact with the water. That's why water landings can be very dangerous for airplanes. If the airplane speed isn't slowed down enough, the airplane will break apart. So my point is that the solidity of an object can be taken as an accurate reflection of reality or illusion, depending on how we perceive an interaction with it.
True, but that's not what I said. You have to perceive something in order to ignore it, but perception always depends on the perspective of the observer. Background perceptions that the mind filters out are still bona fide perceptions of reality.
Well, we can quibble over what we mean by "disappear". Perhaps "becomes irrelevant to the observer" would be a better characterization of shifting perspective to an observer that is not part of the timeline. That's why I like to bring up the example of reading a novel. Intellectually, we know that the characters in it are not real, but we don't enjoy the illusion of the story unless we can "suspend reality". That is, we shift perspectives in order to enjoy the experience of reading the novel.
If one takes the position of a soft determinist or compatibilist, then one can also shift perspective to one where consequences are unknown. From that perspective the future does not exist, only alternative versions of what it is likely to become.
And we have all experienced that uncertainty and humans have evolved specific language and logic to deal with it. When we do not know what "will" happen, we imagine what "can" happen, to prepare for what "does" happen.
Exactly right. In fact, all animals experience uncertainty and build predictive models of the future. We program robots to do that, as well. Humans have just evolved a means of communicating thoughts through a complex auditory signal. So all languages have tense and aspect expressions to communicate thoughts about when events happen and how long the events last.
Hard determinists simply refuse to acknowledge that reality can be perceived differently--experienced from different angles. They cling to the delusion that there can be only one possible way to experience of reality. So you have to choose between the reality where all future outcomes are known and the one where they are not known. You can't have both.
But the ordinary "man on the street" has no problem using the correct logic in the correct situation. He speaks and acts with certainty in matters of certainty, like when he is hammering a nail. He speaks and acts with uncertainty, referring to things that he "can" do (like hammering a nail) even when he is not hammering a nail. He imagines building a dog house for his pet, and knows instinctively that his dog cannot sleep in the "possibility" of a dog house but only in an "actual" dog house.
So, ordinary language provides the hard determinist with all the tools he needs to keep things straight in his head. And it is only when he confuses himself with abstractions and draws false inferences from his concepts that he ends up creating paradoxes that are too complex for him to climb out of.
This has been the position of so-called Ordinary Language Philosophy. A word of caution on the Wikipedia article, however. It associates OLP with Logical Positivism, which partly came out of Wittgenstein's early work with Bertrand Russell. OLP was actually inspired by Wittgenstein's later work, which rejected the verificationism that Logical Positivism is associated with.