Norman Samish writes:
> In a discussion about philosophy, Nick Prince said, "If we are living in a
> simulation. . ."
> To which John Mikes replied, "I think this is the usual pretension. . . I
> think 'we simulate what we are living in' according to the little we know.
> Such 'simulation' - 'simplification' - 'modeling' - 'metaphorizing' - or even
> 'Harry Potterizing' things we think does not change the 'unknown/unknowable'
> we live in. We just think and therefore we think we are."
> This interchange reminded me of thoughts I had as a child - I used to wonder
> if if everything I experienced was real or a dream. How could I know which
> it was? I asked my parents and was discouraged, in no uncertain terms, from
> asking them nonsensical questions. I asked my playmates and friends, but
> they didn't know the answer any more than I did. I had no other resources so
> I concluded that the question was unanswerable and that the best I could do
> was proceed as if what I experienced was reality.
> Now, many years later, I have this list - and Wikipedia - as resources. But,
> as John Mikes (and others) say, I still cannot know that what I experience is
> reality. I can only assume that reality is how things appear to me - and I
> might be wrong.
I think the young Norman Samish got it right:
(a) I used to wonder if if everything I experienced was real or a dream. How
could I know which it was?
(b) I had no other resources so I concluded that the question was unanswerable
and that the best I could do was proceed as if what I experienced was reality.
To "know the truth" is to become godlike, standing outside of the world and
seeing everything for what it really is... and even then you might ask yourself
whether you really are omniscient or only *think* you are omniscient. The best
we can do in science as in everyday life is to accept provisionally that things
are as they seem. There is no shame in this, as long as you are ready to revise
your theory in the light of new evidence, and it is certainly better than
assuming that things are *not* as they seem, in the absence of any evidence.
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