AI and cognitive psychology rant (getting more and more OT - tell me if I should shut up)
aleax at aleax.it
Sun Oct 26 00:34:47 CEST 2003
Stephen Horne wrote:
> True. But perception cannot change reality. Reality is not about
> perception - it existed long before there was anything capable of
You are so WONDERFULLY certain about such things -- including the
fact that "before" is crucial, i.e., the arrow of time has some
Physicist J. A. Wheeler (and his peer referees for the "IBM Journal
of Research and Development") didn't have your admirable certainty
that "reality is not about perception".
Which is why in "World as system self-synthesized by quantum networking",
see the summary and pointer for PDF download at (long URL):
Wheeler seriously considered the hypothesis of...:
an all- encompassing role for observer-participancy: to build, in time to
come, no minor part of what we call its past ? our past, present, and
future ? but this whole vast world.
"observer-participancy" is a delightful way to say "perception", of
course, but the most interesting part of this is that, to a theoretical-
enough physicist, the mere fact that something happens in the future is
obviously no bar to that something "building" something else in the past.
Now, it IS quite possible, of course, that Wheeler's working hypothesis
that "the world is a self-synthesizing system of existences, built on
observer-participancy" will one day turn out to be unfounded -- once
somebody's gone to the trouble of developing it out completely in fully
predictive form, devise suitable experiments, and monitor results.
But to dismiss the hypothesis out of hand, "just because", does not
seem to me to be a productive stance. That the universe cannot have
built its own past through future acts of perception by existences
within the universe is "obvious"... but so, in the recent past, were
SO many other things, that just didn't turn out to hold...:-).
Of course, theoretical-enough physicists do such things just to annoy
us feet-firm-on-ground, no-nonsense types:-). However, there are
other, less-weird approaches, totally orthogonal to ones such as
Wheeler's. I would particularly recommend:
The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge
by Peter L. Berger, Thomas Luckmann
it's dated (late '60s), but I think it's still an important text for
the layman who's actually interested in the sociology of knowledge
(if experts can recommend more updated texts suitable for laymen I'll
be grateful -- NB: deconstructionists need not apply:-). I know John
Searle has written a book with a curiously similar title, "The
Construction of Social Reality", and takes hundreds of pages to defend
the view that there ARE "brute facts" independent of human actions
and perceptions -- but does NOT deny the existence of "social reality"
superimposed, so to speak, upon "brute reality". But that's all I know
about this book -- a capsule summary -- and I'm not as interested in
digging much deeper about contemporary philosophy, as I am about such
disciplines as sociology.
Looking on the web for the ISBN I hit upon several google links that
look interesting (no time to pursue them in depth, sorry), such as
But, I'm sure y'all are googlers just as good as I am:-).
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