Tag Archives: reality

David Lewis’s On the Plurality of Worlds: A Modal Realism

26 Oct

A huge thing that philosophy is occupied by is sense data. Sense data (by Royce, Moore and Russell at first) has its characteristics and are data that come from our perceptive senses. The real question is, concerning sense data: Are the sense data representatives of material objects in reality,  or are sense data just images our minds produce with no relation to reality, therefore sense data having no connection to material reality? When I look at a blue cup,  is there really a blue cup there made of plastic particles fusing together to make a good device to carry a drink of choice, or is the blue cup just something that my mind is telling me is there? Many philosophies advocate one or the other, in different variations, such as solipsists believing that if a blue cup is seen, its existence is not known, extremes are taken, when at the same time, philosophies are less extreme. Considering Descartes, an evil deceiver distorts our visual world deceiving us of certain existences, which is another theory on the matter. Realism theories advocate that what we see pertains to real material existences. David Lewis proposing a thesis for the plurality of worlds advocated a modal realism.

Lewis, a philosopher I have only recently encountered the writing of, begins On the Plurality of Worlds by stating his thesis of plurality. He introduces a modal realism stating that all things perceived and sensed are existent and real in some way. The world I see right now with a computer, a blue cup, an iPod touch, my phone, a bunch of books, the blue sky, and everything else is one specific world. If one were to perceive a world where all life has been demolished except that person, that is yet another world. Some people humorously talk about parallel universes, like if I have blonde hair, blue eyes and am white, my parallel universe world would involve me with black hair, brown eyes, and black, and where everything else is opposite the way things are in the first world.

If one can perceive it, it is a possible world. Lewis puts it very well: “The worlds are many and varied. There are enough of them to afford worlds where (roughly speaking) I finish on schedule [his book], or I write on behalf of impossibilia, or I do not exist, or there are no people at all, or the physical constants do not permit life, or totally different laws govern the doings of alien particles with alien properties. There are so many other worlds, in fact, that absolutely every way that a world could possibly be is a way that some world is” (Lewis). He discusses in the beginning writing his book on time, and refers that to a certain possible world. Also, he states that he writes on the possibilities, not the impossibilities (impossibilia), but in some world he may be writing about the impossibilia. The bold writing says it all.

Lewis also adds that possible worlds perceived do not include worlds we make up. We may make worlds up in sleep, insomniac hallucinations, or narcotic hallucinations, and those are not the possible worlds because those are exaggerations and digressions of ideas of actual material things.

What do these possible worlds mean? To one that believes in this modal realism, it means (in my opinion, and others’) that sense data, or perceptions, denote material objects and/or reality in one way or another. Seeing the regular world one always sees, and then immediately seeing a world where all civilizations are wiped out, are both different worlds, meaning both are reality in one way or another. This is one answer for the argument stated at the very beginning ( are sense data representations of reality, or are sense data just images of the mind not connected to any reality). Modal realism states that all perceptions (not dreamed or hallucinated) are reality and can be of material objects.

So, one might ask, if I am perceiving one world (where monkeys run the world, and humans are the pets), how is the opposite world (where humans are the runners of the world, and monkeys are wild animals or pets) a real world at all? What we are perceiving at one instance is the only world actualized ( the succeeded form of a potential world). Another person besides me might be perceiving the same world, and maybe that person is perceiving a world not actualized to me. Because our perceptions are so different each person’s world is one world actualized while all the other possible worlds are, yet are in a potential state. The actualized potentialized understanding of all the possible worlds was kind of my understanding of all of this. It is also important to note that all possible worlds are not spatio-temporally connected. One world does not appear at one time, and another at a later time. One world does not exist in one space, and another world 6999 light years away. Spatio-temporal connections of the possible worlds are not existent.

To sum up the possible worlds in  modal realism:

  • Worlds are not created by people- As in, one dreaming or hallucinating a round square (how that would be I have not a clue) is not of a possible world because this thing is not at all possible in any world.
  • Worlds are not spatio-temporally connected-  Worlds are not spaced out in time, and are not located individually in space
  • To conclude from the above, worlds appearing to each person (not dreamed or hallucinated) are worlds that happen to be actualized. All  other possible worlds not appearing to a person are potential, and still are.

To discuss more the argument that all perceptions are perceptions of reality, if one saw any blue animal ( a lion for instance)  in one world appearing to him, what that person is seeing would be real. This is because an animal can become blue if it needed to be (not in this case by itself, specifically if this was a weird world where people soaked animals in pools full of blue dye), and this is a possible world. Because of how this is incredibly possible, it is real.  If we try to take something incredibly outrageous and crazy from a dream or hallucination, like seeing a round square, a round square is not real or possible. A round square could not appear in a possible world, and is therefore not real or material in any way (something being real usually denotes it being a material object of some sort). A round square is just an example for outrageous crazy things that we make up sometimes that are not real even in the huge possible worlds of modal realism.

Look around. If you see something that cannot be logically possible then question the reality of your perceptions. But if you look around and cannot find one impossibility to be questioned, then your perceptions are real and material in the best sense of the words.

Thanks for the support, once again.


Jean Baudrillard The Intelligence of Evil: Integral Reality

27 Jul

In the beginning of the Intelligence of Evil and the Lucidity Pact, Baudrillard explains that integral reality is the only reality that is true enough to be referred upon. He states that integral reality is inferred from objective reality. He also talks about faith in God and other things without the ability to see them causing their own disappearance in reality. The claim to integral reality is done so because of the metaphysical disappearance of the concept of reality because of the unknowns causing the people to rely on faith to understand things around them.  Baudrillard begins his book by explaining what reality is understood as.

“Objective reality- reality related to meaning and representation- gives way to integral reality, a reality without limits in which everything is realized and technically materialized without reference to any principle or final purpose whatever” (Baudrillard).

Integral reality is derived from objective reality in that the reality is understood from all things that we understand and perceive. Integral reality eludes faith, ambiguity. Looking back on Wittgenstein, he would endorse integral reality because of how it only recognizes things we see and understand, especially because he did not believe in having faith in something we cannot see or understand.

I find integral reality interesting because of how it (along with many other philosophies) only endorses things we see and understand. Having faith in things we do not understand or perceive goes against integral reality. Baudrillard does well to state faiths in these things as to say that the technical integral reality disappears when we have faith in things that may or may not exist. There is no place in integral assured reality for faith because of how faith leads to ambiguity of the entire reality, defeating the purpose of the roots of integral reality: objective reality, all the way up to the realization of integral reality.

I find also interesting that Baudrillard brings forth this integral reality, not only to come from objective reality, but to not involve the imaginary. The removal of the imaginary from this reality removes the possibility of seeing anything and understanding anything other than what we see and understand.  The removal of faith in things, and the removal of the imaginary along with the required understanding and seeing only of our own perceptions creates the integral reality that is stated by Baudrillard to be the only thing we can rely upon.

I disagree with Baudrillard’s inference to integral reality because of the fact that there is more to be understood than one can understand at one infinitesimal moment. I disagree with the removal of ambiguous faiths, and the imaginary as well, further supporting my disagreement with integral reality.

First, Baudrillard’s elimination of faiths (mostly in God) from reality is wrong because of the fact that a possible existence of a God cannot be ruled out. The elimination of faiths  is impended on integral reality because the reality wouldn’t be integral if we had to rely on faiths to understand  and see things. Integral reality is reality that is for sure to exist because of how we perceive and understand it. Reality would not be like this if we had faiths. A faith in God within integral reality makes the concept disappear because of how the faith defeats the purpose of reality being integral. My main point to make is that an integral reality is not possible to declare, but first I want to say why removal of faiths is not logical. When I talk about faith, not only do I mean faith in God, but I want to attempt at meaning a faith in anything. My faith is in God, but many other faiths exist. I state that faith is not logically removed because we are here now, and we cannot understand how the world came to be. If we were around when it was created, and saw it, faiths could probably be eliminated, but we are here now. Because we are here now, we have to have hypotheses based on faith on how the world came to be, and how we came to exist here. No scientific or cosmological data can be established to affirm the method of creation, so we have to rely on some faith or another. Hypotheses about creation may lead one to believe that the Big Bang Theory is how the world and us came to exist, but because the person endorsing it cannot know it for sure based on perceptions, a faith is naturally present. The same goes for one believing in Genesis creation by God. Because of this creation leading to hypotheses, faiths cannot be eliminated because none of us were there for the creation.

Second, the imaginary cannot be eliminated from any reality. We see and perceive things on a daily basis, creating our understanding, but because we have this understanding does not mean that our brains are not capable of brain storming outside it. Even when we have involuntary dreams while sleeping, some of the dreams are so incredibly weird and far fetched that it cannot possibly conform or even be compared to the way things are in common reality. The imaginary can usually be repeated in reality regardless of how weird the imagination is. Just because our brains can conceive so much more than what is perceived in reality, the imaginary cannot be eliminated from any reality.

I state why Baudrillard is false in removing the imaginary and the faiths because they are rooted in why declaration of an integral reality is wrong. Integral reality is wrong for the same reason that solipsism is wrong. Reality and understanding cannot be stated to be based upon perceptions and what we see and therefore understand. There are many things beyond our perception and understanding that we cannot at first even pick up, but because of this, it does not mean that we should just resort to saying that reality is only what we see. There is a void of things we cannot even perceive or conceive of, but because of that we have the imaginary, and we have faith about hypotheses in things that we find ambiguous. Because we cannot immediately define the existence of every exact thing does not mean we should eliminate the faith in things, or the imaginary. Without faiths, there would be no progressive hypotheses progressing to prove the things we have faith in. If there was no faith in the existence of God, there would have never been a forever long debate between philosophers about proving the existence of God by theodicies. Faiths help us progress to understanding the world around us, and to sift through what is truth and falsity. The imaginary not being available to the human would prevent the creation of ideas, inventions, and anything else that helps and progresses the state of the world. Imaginary not being around would prevent a lot of the progression of society and the world because we would not have the visions to create or the ideas to make real. It is my opinion that faiths and the imaginary cannot be removed from any conception of reality.

Restricting reality to just  what we perceive and understand defeats the purpose of defining reality. We cannot deny that we have imaginary constantly, and that our hypotheses about the ambiguous lends the existence of faiths. The impossible denial of these things makes integral reality false and also makes Baudrillard’s definition not able to be classified as reality of any kind. Baudrillard stated the elimination of the imaginary and of faiths because of how they may be thought of as to defeat the purpose of a reality. It is truthful, in my opinion, that some of reality is not instantaneously real. This non-instantaneously real reality falsely lead Baudrillard into defining the false integral reality. Integral reality is the reality we perceive and understand when most of the reality in the world is beyond what one person, and even all people understand and perceive, therefore making integral reality a false entity.

After having just recently written a symposium paper for Prolegomena Journal about Wittgenstein’s solipsism and neutral monism, I think that Baudrillard’s integral reality coincides directly with Wittgenstein’s solipsism. Both integral reality and solipsism limit reality to what one person perceives and understand, and it denies the existence of things a person cannot immediately grasp. I find that very interesting how two philosophers that are basically unrelated can come together based on their concepts.

Comment below on how credible you think integral reality is, and how reality should be limited and reduced.