[extropy-chat] Role of Observer is not Relevant

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Wed Mar 28 15:53:07 UTC 2007

Jef writes

> [Restoring some relevant context]
> ... *all* observation is indirect (we have no simple direct unbiased
> access to reality, because we're embedded in it)...
>> Different conventions, I guess.
> Clearly more than conventions, as I have described, and as you likely
> know since you and I have gone around around this loop more than once.

Actually, I don't "know" that, sorry. And it is not just with you
that I have noticed this evidently unpenetrable chasm separating
those who see sense-impressions from those who see objects.
Kant wrote endlessly about this, insisting that although it was
very complicated, we do see objects. But I may even be wrong
about Kant;  yet it's pretty certain that people differ wildly here.

Or have I mischaracterized your view here? 

>>To me, objects are seen by
>> someone or something, and that's all.  To you, perhaps that's
>> just an everyday abbreviation for "the photons bouncing off
>> the car are seen", and in turn, that is probably shorthand for
>> something even more indirect that involves more truths about
>> the seer (such as nerve endings or retinas).
> It's significant that you accept that there can be distortion in the
> sensory channels but fail to accept--or even consider--that when I say
> fnord "we have no simple direct unbiased
> access to reality, because we're embedded in it," fnord I mean that
> these biases run throughout the entire system that you consider you.
> It's as if that key statement (which you omitted from your redaction)
> didn't fit your reality so it had no meaning for you.

The reason that I oppose your
statement "we have no simple direct unbiased access to reality"
is not because I'm unaware of how complex certain biases (which
really do exist) can be, and am unaware of the immense 
causal chain leading from outside to various parts of the brain.
No, it's because your account---and all the people who agree
with you---seems to invoke a Cartesian theatre. I will regard
myself, for example, as the entire system that sees an object,
and not as some much smaller end process that is deeply 
hidden somewhere in the brain.

(And for anyone else reading, this "seeing an object" that I do
is to be taken as a completely objective statement, such as
"the machine received the bit string making up the .gif file".)

>> As Sunny Auyang wrote in her great physics/philosophy
>> book "How Is Quantum Field Theory Possible",
>>     "I have never seen a sense impression in my life."
> She makes a valid point; there is no such privileged point of view
> within the system.  But the system known as Sunny Auyang has certainly
> processed many sense impressions.

Yes, I agree with that, and thanks for your answer about
references being direct.


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