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If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, it does not make a

If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, it does not make a sound. This makes sense because sound is a perception. Without a perceiver, the falling tree just creates sound waves that are never perceived as sound. But, Schrödinger's cat applies to a living thing whose existence is not dependent on any outside observation. Why is it that the the cat cannot be said to be alive or dead until an observation is made? Seems that the status of the cat is simply unknown until an obervation is made. Please explain.

When the proverbial tree falls in the forest, it vibrates creating sound waves that will, under normal conditions, cause a sound-experience as of a crashing tree in the mind of any normal hearer who is within range. There are plenty of vibrations and sound waves, and conditionas are ideal, but alas, there is no one around in that isolated forest, not even a wood-pixie, to have any sound-experiences at all.

Was there a sound nevertheless? I say yes. "Sound" in its primary, objective use picks out, roughly, whatever features underlie the objective auditory properties we take ourself to perceive in the world outside us--vibration-events in the tree, more or less, or perhaps the soundwaves they cause. When I say that I hear the resplendent sound of that trumpet, I take myself to be representing a feature of the trumpet (or it's current activity) not a feature of my mind, though I recognize that my auditory capacities are required to accomplish this representation. Cases of auditory illusion (or hallucination) only support this objective use: if I hear voices where there are none, we call it illusion precisely because I am misrepresenting the world as containing sounds that it doesn't.

But then what am I hearing? They sure sound like sounds. A difficult question to be sure, and I think it reveals a minority subjective use according to which we use "sound" to pick out, roughly, qualitative features of a given sound-experience. These can exist (and so can "sounds" in this subjective snese) even when, as in illusion, they are brought about by something other than the objective sounds that normally cause them--by a drug, for example, or a brisk rapping on the ears. But this really is, in my view, a less common and perhaps even misguided usage.

So, yes, the tree does make a sound even when no one hears it. (And if you're convinced by this, I'd like to share with you some intersting ideas I have about the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.)

It's difficult to link these considerations about sound to Schrodinger's cat. And there's no reason, in any case, why our theory of sound should parallel our understanding of quantum mechanics. Nevertheless, the thought there is that a certain orthodox interpretation of quantum mechanics won't allow us to say that certain micro-physical state of affairs are completely determined independently of (and in advance of) certain measurements or observations of these states. And the poor cat is meant dramatically to amplify this weirdness. If this is the best way to understand quantum reality, then it doesn't contain the type of independence between observed and observer that I claim holds between sounds and sound-experiences. A competing "many-worlds" interpreation of quantum mechanics is more akin to my view of sounds. The cat, on this view, is determinately alive in one "world" and dead in another, and this is so independently of the behavior of my different counterparts who discover different pieces of news in their respective worlds. But I have a difficult time with this theory; and you can take that from someone who believes that vastly more sounds have been made than heard.

Does the human mind perceive sight in 3 dimensions, or do we actually see in 2

Does the human mind perceive sight in 3 dimensions, or do we actually see in 2 dimensions, where depth perception and distance really don't exist in our mind? For example, I am looking at a bridge 100 yards away, I place my finger directly in front of the bridge. Now in the external world there exists a finger an arm's length away from my eyes, and a bridge 100 yards away. If the picture that occurs in my mind is a 2 dimensional picture then my finger and the bridge are located on the same plane in my mind, and distance would not truly exist in my perception. But if the mind's perception of sight occurs in 3 dimensions, like a hologram, then the picture I receive through sight must occur in a three dimensional space in my mind, where distances must be in the same but smaller ratios as exist in the external world. Here occurs a problem. If our perception of vision occurs in smaller but equal ratios of three dimensions, then the same object would have two sizes: That which exists in my mind (extremely...

We need to keep some things straight here. The "picture" that occurs in your mind, if there is such a thing, is a representation. You don't have a single object, the bridge say, which has two sizes. The bridge isn't both in the external world and in your mind. It's just in the external world. If there is a "picture" of the bridge in your mind, then it is a picture of the bridge, not the bridge, and the fact that it has a different size from the bridge is hardly surprising.

More generally, whether the representation is three-dimensional or not (and there is some empirical evidence that it is, actually) has nothing particular to do with whether it is capable of representing three dimensions. Think of a map. On the map, dots represent towns and the relative distances between little dots represent distances. If it's a topographic map, then there may be lines that represent height. The map represents three dimensions even though it is essentially two dimensional.

It's important to be clear here that you do not see the picture in your mind, though, the way you see the map. What you see is the bridge, and you see it three-dimensionally by having some representation of it in your mind, and that representation represents something three-dimensional.

I was thinking about properties of objects. We say "sugar is sweet," but is it

I was thinking about properties of objects. We say "sugar is sweet," but is it sweet in the absence of a mind to perceive that it is sweet? Could some other perception find that it is, say, sour instead? Or is it intrinsically sweet on its own, independent of an intellect to observe that it is sweet?

There are three main options here that philosophers have developed for properties like sweetness: sweetness is a sensation, it is a disposition in some things to produce a sensation, or it is an intrinsic property of sweet things (presumably to do with their molecular structure). On the first view, the same thing may be sweet to one person and sour to another (because it isn't really the thing that is sweet or sour, only the varying sensations). On the third view, what is sweet is sweet is sweet for everyone (because it isn't determined by people's reactions). One difference between the first and the second view is that only on the second view are things sweet when they are not being tasted.

On what basis can we claim somebody is delusional? Assuming objective, True

On what basis can we claim somebody is delusional? Assuming objective, True Reality(tm) exists, but is not directly knowable and is only knowable through mediation of our senses, how do we have any solid footing for deciding one person's senses are defective compared to another's? Two thought experiments to illustrate this idea: Assume I am alone in a room, and I see a purple monkey swinging from the lamp. I perceive this odd sight and may, or may not, decide that I'm hallucinating based on my previous experiences. If somebody else comes into the room, and I ask them what they see, if they agree with me, then odds are better that we are both seeing accurately, but if he disagrees with me, then he may be blind to the monkey, or I may be imagining it. Adding more people will get us a consensus view, but doesn't really prove anything in more than a statistical way. Who is delusional, and who is seeing truly? Or, assume I am the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. Like the monkey-seeing fellow in...

There seems to be a pattern of argument here that needs to be questioned. It is: (i) Method M for reaching judgements isn't completely reliable; therefore, (ii) method M can't be trusted. The conclusion simply doesn't follow. Method M might be very reliable, in which case it can be trusted to a high degree.

I doubt "group opinion" is the only method available to us for distinguishing hallucination and illusion from perception. (For example, in the land of the blind, there might be ways of correlating your apparent perceptions with facts on which you can all agree, e.g., that there is a boulder in such-and-such a location that wasn't there yesterday.) But it might be quite a good way of drawing the distinction even if it isn't a perfect way.