Up@dawn 2.0

Friday, January 30, 2015

H-01 Jeanette, Josh, Bryce and Dr. Oliver's Peripatetic Discussion

During our peripatetic adventure, we decided to discuss the nature of reality. The essence of the question was whether or not we believe reality is an illusion. Firstly, we talked about how reality is what our senses make of our surroundings; how our interaction with our environment simulates a sense of reality. Josh's argument, I believe, attempted to define reality as our physical perception of nature. In this model, reality is what the agent makes of the universe. I think that out of this notion comes ideas and philosophies, like religions! Its an attempt at rationalizing our own existence. The conversation inevitably led to the mathematical nature of our universe (probably because I was there to bring it up as I usually do...). A deepening understanding behind the structure of nature leads many to perceive reality much differently. With a few relatively simple equations and theorems, one can, in theory, recreate the physical universe. We may not know everything, but we've had a good start at attempting to. Josh then asked me why, if everything is just a product of a conglomeration of equations, the universe is not static and unchanging? Herein lies the heart of scientific exploration. Why do objects move through space-time the way they do and why does energy behave the way it does? The answer is, no one knows why exactly nature behaves the way it does, but we know it does! All we can do is look at all the data and make inferences. Energy seems to flow to its lowest possible state, which sort of offers an explanation to Josh's question (we'll have to talk more about this!). On the other hand, we spoke of the perceived reality of our own consciousness. On this topic, we seemed to have no firm grip of what our thoughts and actions mean in terms of their implications on true reality. If someone were to drop some LSD, he or she will see that internal reality is malleable and subject to extreme change. I made the assertion that reality is a library of discrete facts attained through interaction with one's environment; when those 'facts' are messed with, like with the lysergic acid, one's sense of reality becomes greatly perturbed.   


  1. All this in less than 20 minutes!

  2. Perfect summary of our conversation! I'm still a little bit unsure how I feel about reality. If our perception of reality changes through the use of drugs, or even based upon our mood, does this change reality, or is it just like looking through a different lens? So, could reality be something completely different than how we perceive it through our eyes? I may be rambling, but I hope to get some more insight on this later in the course :)

  3. My FQs:
    1. In a few words, how would Aristotle describe eudaimonia? (LH 11)
    2. What is Aristotle's doctrine of the Golden Mean? (LH 13)
    3. What is the Teleological Argument when speaking about belief in God? (P 11)

  4. One thought about the 'different lens' idea of distorted reality. I agree completely with Jeanette that these internal chemical changes are just a perspective shift from an ultimate reality; I can't seem to believe that there can be multiple levels of true reality. Doesn't there seem to need to be a final structuring of reality?

    FQ: (T/F) Aristotle intended for people to understand his 'Law of the Mean' as being advice for practicing moderation in all things.
    DQ: What do you think ethics are and how do you think its components are passed through generational time?

  5. Evan Conley2:01 PM CST

    Interesting! I share the beliefs of both Bryce and Jeanette that there is some sort of true reality, and that the "reality" that we derive from our senses is simply our own personal interpretations of the information we receive. While I understand the meaning behind the idea that reality is subjective, because "reality" can mean something different based on the perceptions of each individual, it's difficult for me to believe in reality as different for each person. You brought up the use of LSD as a lens with which an individual's perception of reality can be altered, which I find interesting. To further this discussion, I'd like to mention briefly one of the effects of LSD, to explain more in detail how it can alter an individual's perception. When a person uses any of the five senses, the information travels through an area of the brain which filters out the information it deems unimportant or unnecessary. When enough LSD is taken, these filters are essentially shut down temporarily, so that far more information is absorbed. This can account for much of the overwhelming sensations that people experience while tripping. Because information is not filtered out, the perspective of the person under the influence of the drug is shifted wildly, allowing for various new and different interpretations of known phenomena. While the validity of some of these newer interpretations of reality may be questionable, it is nonetheless interesting that a tiny amount of a chemical can lead to such extraordinary realizations and conclusions.

    Personally, I believe the use of LSD as well as other perspective-shifting substances, if used responsibly, can lead individuals to incredible epiphanies and ideas about life and happiness. In a similar fashion to discourse with people with different perspectives, the change of perspective through the use of drugs can be a powerful tool for an individual wishing to find a deeper, more well-rounded interpretation of reality.

  6. As someone who has always been trying to perceive reality as best I could, I feel that the backing behind our reality being what we tangibly perceive to be reality is strong. In relation to LSD, the reason we are so fascinated with the substance is that is changes how we perceive reality, and in logical fashion changes reality for the individual. I understand how the ability to shift perspective and reality opens up a world of potential perspective-driven outlooks on reality, but I believe the reason it is called a "high" when one is under the influence is because there is a ground to come back to - a regular and consistent perspective that is understood to be reality. There is ground upon which to stand and a basis off of which to place our understanding of the world: our natural perspective.

    Continuing along the "natural perspective" vein, how about looking at our perspective on reality from an evolutionary point of view. According to Darwin's Order of Species, the traits survive in those that present the greatest chance of survival. Therefore, that perspective which presents reality at its most accurate will survive in the offspring; the perspective that lasts is the perspective that is closest to the truth. From here one can conclude that the reason we observe life as we do is because it is closest to the truth and provides the closest perception that is accurate to reality.

    1. Evan Conley1:21 AM CST

      I have to disagree with you on your assertion that the "perspective that lasts is the perspective that is closest to the truth." For one, I'm not sure exactly where the connection between traits that are passed down and perspective is. I wouldn't say that there is one particular perspective that is closest to the truth; rather, I believe the idea is that, by looking at any problem or issue from various perspectives, one can gather a more complete idea of the truth.

      It seems that you are assuming that what most people call reality is the true reality. I argue that our idea of reality may be made more complete by allowing as many different perspectives as possible to be taken into account.

      You say that it's called a high because there is a ground to return to, and while I understand that, I do not think that is reason for it to be totally discarded. Instead, I would assert that some issues can be understood more clearly from higher up. The idea is that an individual could use a drug and, from the new perspective, understand a situation more clearly. Then, after the drugs have worn off, the knowledge that the individual acquired can be applied to their lives.