Reality (General)

by dhw, Sunday, November 10, 2019, 13:07 (244 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: I think quantum mechanics is the basis of reality.

dhw (to David:) "... if you agree that a collision between buses and humans is a genuine form of reality, with all its dire consequences, why do you think that “quantum fuzziness”, a wonderful description of the current state of quantum mechanics, is the basis of reality?"

GEORGE: The fuzziness only becomes significant on very small, molecular and sub-atomic scales. On the scale of humans and buses it is negligible.

dhw: Which is why I consider it absurd to assert that quantum mechanics is the basis of reality.

DAVID: But what is everything made of at the smallest levels?

Particles, but we do not understand the behaviour of individual particles, which is why quantum mechanics is fuzzy. We do understand the behaviour of particles combined into one solid mass such as a bus or a quantum theorist who steps in front of the bus. Why then do you consider material behaviour you don’t understand as “the basis of reality”, and material behaviour you do understand as somehow not being the basis of reality? But then you take the whole discussion one step further:

DAVID: I think there was primordial energy before quanta appeared as God created the universe.

So now we have two forms of reality: one immaterial, which is your God’s reality, and one material, which is “our reality", but according to you the basis of our material reality is fuzzy, despite the unfuzzy and undisputed reality of the bus. Furthermore, you say “we don't know what is on the other side of quantum uncertainty”, which leaves your immaterialism as open to refutation as materialism (good grounds for agnosticism).

DAVID: The bus is not quantum mechanics, and is a very poor example of a refutation. Our consciousness plays a role in the strange results.

dhw: A refutation of what? Do you or do you not agree that the bus is an example of the only reality you, George and I will certainly accept as being as close to objective as we can get? The fact that our consciousness plays a role in the strange results of quantum mechanics is a very poor example of a refutation of the reality of the bus. And while we’re at it, are you now arguing that quantum mechanics is the basis of our consciousness, i.e. that it is NOT immaterial but arises from material particles? Or is our consciousness not part of “our” reality?

DAVID: I repeat that the basis of everything we consider matter is quantum particles at the tiniest level. Consciousness is immaterial as we know, but it plays a large role in quantum experiments. I conceive of it as pure energy, not in material form.

Of course everything we consider as matter consists of tiny particles, and materialists will tell you that they and their behaviour constitute reality. However, firstly that does not mean that the fuzzy behaviour of individual particles when observed by conscious minds is more objectively “real” than the anything-but-fuzzy behaviour of particle communities such as a bus when observed (or even unobserved) by conscious minds. Secondly, although of course consciousness, ideas, thoughts, dreams, the will, aesthetics, philosophy etc. are immaterial, the issue is whether they are produced by particles or by some unknown reality “on the other side of quantum uncertainty”. You opt for an unknown reality, and so you argue on two levels, which amounts to saying that the basis of material reality is particles (which no one will dispute) but the basis of the behaviour of material reality is immaterial reality, which is wide open to dispute.

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