Sunday, July 1, 2007

What is reality?

How does one define reality? Is it supposed to be certified by a conscious agent? Well, if the conscious agent is a result of processes in the world that it is trying to certify as real, does that validation have any merit to it? Doesn't the whole argument become circular?

I suppose that when I am dreaming, the world in the dream is in every way as authentic as the world in my waking state, at least for the duration of the dream. But the moment I wake up, I realize that it was an unreal world, a product of my own consciousness. Now can the same be a possibility of the world that I belong to in the waking state? Of course, this enigma is nothing new. It's been the subject of philosophical debates for millenia.

It is possible that my consciousness has nothing to do with the physical brain in my waking state. To give an analogy, in my dreams, I might be led to believe that my awareness is a product of the neural processes happening inside my head in my dream avatar, but the moment I wake up, I know that that isn't the case. This would then correspond to a Matrix-like scenario that I think David Chalmers likes to point out.

I guess the quest for solution for the hard problem assumes otherwise. If the above is true, then the whole issue is moot, for it would be a wild goose chase to try to come up with any explanation.

So then, what is reality? Does it still need a validation by a conscious agent? We saw that it doesn't always work.

I would say that the only definite reality is conscious entities themselves. A conscious agent is its own certificate. A conscious agent, of any form, spirit, or matter, does not need an external validating agent. If a conscious agent feels pain, it feels pain, period. No one (even in another universe) can deny it.

While us conscious beings can deride other parallel universes and basically claim that what that doesn't affect us and cannot affect us doesn't matter to us, if we come to know there are conscious entities in those universes that suffer, we might still empathize with them.

If we were to be asked a question "Is there suffering?", the answer to this question would include not just of beings in our universe, but of all possible fictional universes (from our point) that have conscious agents that undergo suffering.

This is because, all conscious agents spawn their own reality, and in the fraternity of conscious beings, suffering by one has to be acknowledged as suffering taking place by all other conscious beings of different universes. And even the time parameter may not be shared by all these universes, so the suffering experienced by one agent may not even correspond to a timewise progression in another universe. It's indeed a bizzare kind of acknowledgement of suffering which extends across the fraternal order of conscious entities.

I call this meta fraternity of conscious entities.