Ming the Mechanic:
Naïve realism

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Naïve realism2007-06-27 00:58
picture by Flemming Funch

Naïve realism is a common sense theory of perception. Most people, until they start reflecting philosophically, are naïve realists. This theory is also known as "direct realism" or "common sense realism".

Naïve realism claims that the world is pretty much as common sense would have it. All objects are composed of matter, they occupy space, and have properties such as size, shape, texture, smell, taste and colour. These properties are usually perceived correctly. So, when we look at and touch things we see and feel those things directly, and so perceive them as they really are. Objects continue to obey the laws of physics and retain all their properties whether or not there is anyone present to observe them doing so.

Naïve realism is distinct from scientific realism. Scientific realism says the universe really contains just those properties which feature in a scientific description of it, and so does not contain properties like colour per se, but merely objects that reflect certain wavelengths owing to their microscopic surface texture. The naïve realist, on the other hand, would say that objects really do possess the colours we perceive them to have.
Thanks, Anandavala for mentioning it in your article The Scientific Case Against Materialism. The Wikipedia entry tries to imply that it is something that kind of doesn't apply to scientists, which of course isn't quite so. Actually the odd statement there that "the universe really contains just those properties which feature in a scientific description of it" hints at where scientific thinking can get off track, but maybe there's another name for that. You know, the idea that reality is what is found in sufficiently agreed-upon scientific theories, rather than what it really is, beyond any kind of theory.

You'll also find an oddly large percentage of those people who claim science as the foundation of their thinking who mostly argue for what science used to be. You know, aristotelean and newtonian kind of science. Which involves a certain kind of naïve realism, at least in comparison with more modern stuff. I mean, that the universe consists of seperate objects that have properties like mass and that are subject to gravity. Oh, that's how it appears on a superficial and tangible level, and that's practical for building houses, and satellites, and for maintaining your household in a sane way. But in terms of how it really is, it seems to me that science has been beyond that for a century or so. But a lot of us haven't really internalized stuff like quantum physics and even relativity theory, because it is odd and counter-intuitive. Because it doesn't fit with our naïve kind of observation of what is there. So we easily default to arguing that all the odd stuff is impossible, part of some kind of organized scam, or at best an unproven theory.

OK, I often complain about this kind of thing. It is one of my pet issues. And "Science and Sanity" is still on my list of all time most important books written. It is important not to forget that your simplified idea about reality is not reality, no matter who agrees with you. The foundation of sanity is to stay aware of the difference between perceptions of stuff and the real stuff.

Here's another article that Anandavala links to:
The first stop on our tour is a place called "naive realism." Naive realism is a way of looking at the world. Ways of looking at the world are sometimes dressed up with the word "philosophy," but I won't split a hair's difference.

True naive realists would never sum up or analyze their views, because they do not consider them views but the way things obviously are. However, I will do my best to illuminate them:

"I, the naive realist, am a human being. There is this one physical world, the space where everything exists and the time in which everything happens. There are many things in this physical world, each largely separate from the other and persisting over a span of time. Time is divided into 'now,' which is real and experienced, 'the past,' which once existed but now does not, and 'the future,' which does not exist yet but will.

"My senses give me direct knowledge of reality. If I see a chair, it is because there is a chair physically where and when I see it. There are exceptions, like when I am dreaming or watching a movie, but these are rare and obviously not real.

"I can know things through my senses, through thinking about things, and through communication with other people. Other people's beliefs may be correct or not, but beliefs of people I respect, and beliefs held commonly by most people in my society, are usually true."

Naive realism sounds reasonable enough, but it can lead to science, which as we shall see, contradicts naive realism on nearly every account.
I hope so, but that's where I'm skeptical. Real science, yeah. But there's the widespread belief system, sometimes called materialism, which tends to trump science if one doesn't watch it. I.e. that the world is fundamentally the world of physical objects we see, and nothing that isn't material could possibly exist, and anything else that appears to exist can only come from matter, and no other explanation is possible and even worth considering. You know, naïve materialism. Accepting things without considering the alternatives and without verification.

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27 Jun 2007 @ 09:44 by jazzolog : Terrifying!
Yikes, did anybody check out that guy's site? (comment just above)

"Discover a new paradigm of being, possibility and freedom,
for you, your business, and the world with insideUniverse"
The Uni-v.e.r.s.e. massively benefits Individuals who align with the greatest and most exciting mission in history -- spreading freedom, wealth and sovereignty consciousness to the entire world population, naturally attracting fortunes in the process.
The axis of current world power turns on the wheels of centralized banking and energy. However, these industries are being transformed by Self Leading, Sovereign Individuals with new technology, transforming control by the public and private sectors into alignment with the Laissez Faire Free Market.

Do you suppose Cheney's secret weapon actually is Zonpower?

27 Jun 2007 @ 12:05 by ming : Zon
Well, I resonate with some of this zonpower stuff, but only some of it. Existence exists and is eternal, and can not not exist, and consciousness is an integral part of it. I'd say things like that too. And I also lean towards that consciousness has a big hand in shaping what goes on in the world, probably more than we think. But when we get to making up scientific theories and formulas based on that, I not only get a bit lost, but I worry that it doesn't really hold together. One thing is to philosophize on metaphysical principles that one can present as nice metaphors. But if we claim that it is scientific principles, it needs to play by other rules, like being verifiable in experiments, being internally consistent, etc. Maybe Zon is right about some of that too, but I have no good way of verifying it, at least not without spending a lot of time on it.  

28 Jun 2007 @ 10:30 by jazzolog : Can Existence Not Not Exist?
I meant to click the guy's nickname, not the Zon stuff. As to that, I suppose existence cannot not exist, as long as the Great Existor continues to unfurl it or roll it out or however it happens. But I wouldn't bet your personal free market on it. What horrifies me is not some logical positivistic argument about the existence of existence existing, but this commentor's notion there is anything "free" in the marketplace---least of all Freedom. Pity the poor in nations where this current "foreign policy" is unleashed. If Mr. or Ms. What Do You Think About... cybersurfs by again and finds any profit in discussing his plan to cash in on the chaos, I'll be glad to.  

28 Jun 2007 @ 14:02 by swanny : Philosophy
not sure who said but the idea was that the best philosophy is not about
word meanings and such but about solving or helping with practical human issues.
thus I think he meant good philosophy is practical to human life now.
This is a poor paraphrasing of his quote or opinion.


28 Jun 2007 @ 15:49 by a-d : I agree a hundred with you,
Jazzo; this guy is as mad as the ones he wants to replace!.... Granted, quite a bit of his "philosophy-material" sounds good, but this guys secret agenda is that he just wants to live on Pennsylvania 1600 -or at least somewhere very very close by! He is using a better (sounding) Game-Plan to lure supporters/followers, but when pushed with some hot questions his true agenda reveals itself very quickly and the people there -at his Headquarters- get very mad at you for trying to expose the guy -and they throw u out! So, the Sum Total is: "SAME Game, only different Players" ( these were my words to the, and that got me "thrown out" from The Chosen Circle of theirs!.... This was 1990-91.  

6 Jul 2007 @ 10:11 by bapty : real existence
It is possible to put any conceivable construction on life and its meaning, and speculation is never-ending if every possible view is entertained by somebody.

It seems to me that the lesser conscious mind is capable of only so much correlated content, and if that content is taken up by one or another theory there will not be enough remaining room for essential considerations that should be foundational - given precedence

The competitive money economy is accepted in this way - as a foundational fact that is not usefully questioned as, for instance, OFO's are by comparison uselessly questioned.

Human society does not need individuals who become 'incredibly rich by controlling the force fields of existence'.

We live in relation to our reality and to each other. These conscious mind theories such as 'existence' are irrelevant. We first need to spply ourselves to getting right our reality and ourselves. We have within us the capacity, far beyond that of the conscious, to discover and realise our truth, humantruth, by supraconsciousness, ie by communing with our own postconscious minds. This pretty well means we do the opposite of analysing existence for our own personal good. It means opposing this false reality and being necessarily ineffective in it. It means envisaging and working towards a morally true reality.  

14 Nov 2007 @ 14:19 by Mike @ : Frank Wallace is Full Of Shit
He lures you in with rational correct information. Then he fucking screws your mind up with so much pressure to think so hard that you drive yourself into complete insanity and makes you NEVER feel like you can be a good person because you will NEVER do anything BUT fall short of what he calls perfection.
He is the gambler, he always was. And he is bluffing you with a hand that he controls your mind into believing is going to ALWAYS be better than yours. This man wants to be rich, he doesnt ive a flying fuck nearly as much about who he helps, or destroys, not NEARLY as much as he simply cares about climbing BACK out of bankruptcy that his arrogance has gotten him buried in once again.  

20 Jan 2008 @ 03:09 by Roan Carratu @ : This topic
The Zonpower dude is like... too much of the wrong drug, dood! His basic scientific explanation is pretty good, but his conclusions are like... insane?

The biggest mistake people who follow that stuff have is they don't realize that:

First, human mind is part of the Universe and OBVIOUSLY a basic phenomena of Universe, like the elements and electrical flow, and all that.

Second, to understand anything you have to have TWO complimentary systems of observation to apply to the phenomena, not one. The perspective of Mind affecting Universe is valid, but so is the perspective of Universe generating Mind. Anyone can observe inside and outside, coming and going, all the dualisms of perception, yet they don't understand the ramifications of that perceptions because they fix on one thing, one set of measurements, one set of concepts, one set of words... and miss the meaning of it all.

We are Universe being aware of itself.

To think that what you think creates the Universe is to ignore all the data coming in from perception that denies that assumption/conclusion. To see the mind as the center of the Universe is the ultimate ego trip, man! To realize that the Universe is the center of your mind is far more true, but neither are under the direction of ego. The ego is not a fundamental aspect of Universe... it's a useful construction to help us define what is eatable and what will break our teeth. Nothing more. This Zonpower dood is lost in an illusion that his ego is the manipulator/creator of Universe. Just another con man.


And that is the best summation of the religion of science I have ever read, Ming. And is not that the basis of religion as well? Just plug in 'religious' in place of 'scientific' and 'doctrine' in place of 'theory'. grin.  

20 Jan 2008 @ 03:13 by Roan Carratu @ : This topic take two
Sorry. I used email convention on the quote and apparently it isn't showing it. Here's the quote:

quote: You know, the idea that reality is what is found in sufficiently agreed-upon scientific theories, rather than what it really is, beyond any kind of theory. :unquote

And that is the best summation of the religion of science I have ever read, Ming. And is not that the basis of religion as well? Just plug in 'religious' in place of 'scientific' and 'doctrine' in place of 'theory'. grin.  

Other stories in
2009-11-01 16:35: Seven questions that keep physicists up at night
2008-10-14 20:33: Where are the podcars?
2008-07-05 00:08: Self-Organized Criticality
2008-05-16 13:34: The Universe as God
2008-01-11 19:00: Richard Dawkins comes to call
2007-12-02 21:10: An E8 theory of everything
2007-09-27 00:46: Parallel universes are a bit more real
2007-07-05 23:40: What happened before the big bang
2007-05-26 02:26: Mars cave
2007-04-25 14:17: Quantum physics says goodbye to reality

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