Phil 1381 – Chapters 3 & 4 Synopsis
Essay title: Phil 1381 – Chapters 3 & 4 Synopsis
Chapters 3 & 4 Synopsis
Mark Childers
PHIL 1381
June 4, 2005
Chapters 3 & 4 Synopsis
I believe the assumption of an external reality is the assumption that there is a real world that is external to our mind and senses, and that it exists whether or not we as observers exist, and whether or not we are observing it. This assumption cannot be proved because all of our perceptions, without exception, are mental images, and we have no means to go beyond our mental images. It is one we all commonly make without even thinking about it. In the military, we assume the office and the computer in it are there after we leave work at the end of the day and will be there when we arrive at work in the morning. When we head home at the end of the day, we assume that our house or apartment will be there when we arrive, and that it continued to be there in our absence after we left in the morning. We assume that our friends, relatives, and acquaintances are there whether we can see and talk to them or not, and whether or not we are thinking about them. We assume that our parents existed before we were born, and that many of the people we know will be alive after we die. So many of our everyday experiences repeatedly confirm this assumption that most of us hardly question it. It is an assumption that has enormous survival value: we know that a speeding car can kill us while we are crossing the street absorbed in our thoughts and unaware, that a stray bullet can instantly obliterate our consciousness without warning, or that we can die from an external agent such as a virus, a bacterium, or a poison. The assumption of external reality is necessary for science to function and to flourish. For the most part, science is the discovering and explaining of the external world. Without this assumption, there would be only the thoughts and images of our own mind (which would be the only existing mind) and there would be no need of science, or anything else. In addition to the assumption of an external reality, we also make the assumption that this reality is objective. This is repeatedly confirmed by our daily experience as well as by scientific observations. I also learned that objectivity means that observations, experiments, or measurements by one person can be made by another person, who will obtain the same or similar results. The second person will be able to confirm that the results are the same or similar by consultation with the first person. Hence, communication is essential to objectivity. In fact, an observation that is not communicated and agreed upon is not generally accepted as a valid observation of objective reality. Because agreement is required, objective reality is sometimes called consensus reality. We have said that science assumes that external reality exists whether or not it is observed but that this cannot be proved since all of our observations are necessarily purely mental images. A statement that by its very nature cannot be proved is not a physical assumption, but is called a metaphysical assumption. (Such an assumption can also be called an axiom.) Thus, the bedrock of all science is not science at all but is metaphysics! Not only the nature of science, but also our experience of living, would be fundamentally changed if this assumption were not made. Idealism states that mind or consciousness constitutes the fundamental reality, or is primary. Some versions of idealism admit the existence of material objects, others deny that material objects exist independently of human perception. Plato is often considered the first idealist philosopher, chiefly because of his metaphysical doctrine of Forms. Plato considered the universal Idea or Form, sometimes called an archetype–for example, redness or goodness–more real than a particular expression of the form–a red object or a good deed. According to Plato, the world of changing experience is unreal, and the Idea or Form–which does not change and which can be known only by reason–constitutes true reality. Plato did not recognize mystical experience as a route to true reality, only reason. Idealism was first expounded by Plato in his cave allegory in The Republic. Prisoners are in an underground cave with a fire behind them, bound so they can see only the shadows on the wall in front of them, cast by puppets manipulated behind them. They think that this is all there is to see; if released from their bonds and forced to turn around to the fire and the puppets, they become bewildered and are happier

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Assumption Of An External Reality And Versions Of Idealism. (April 3, 2021). Retrieved from