An Introduction to Philosophy Part 1 - Transcript

Introduction and Purpose of Discussing Philosophy

[0:00] Hello, my name is Stefan Molyneux. I'm the host of Freedomain Radio, which you can find at
And given that we are a show that attempts to deal with certain philosophical questions, I thought maybe it might be kind of interesting to go through a definition of philosophy and talk about some of the basic concepts behind philosophy so that at least you have some understanding of the approach that I take when it comes to discussing philosophical philosophical questions and see if it's worthwhile or something that you would like to incorporate into your own life, into a study of wisdom or knowledge or truth or reality or ethics and so on.
So, I've googled the definition of philosophy and there's quite a number of them.
So, let's go over a few and then we can sort of see where it fits into the approach that we take or I take at Free Domain Radio and, of course, on the boards at forward slash B-O-A-R-D. D.
So, definitions of philosophy on the web include such things as, philosophy is doctrine, a belief, or system of beliefs accepted as authoritative by some school or group.
The rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics. I quite like that one.
This one I don't like so much. Any personal belief about how to live or how to deal with a situation. The quotes here are, self-indulgence was his only philosophy, and my father's philosophy of child-rearing was to let mother do it.

[1:30] Now, the term philosophy derives from the Greek, philos meaning love and sophia meaning wisdom.

[1:38] So, a lover of wisdom. What philosophy is or should be is itself a philosophical question that philosophers have understood and treated differently throughout the ages.

Different Perspectives on Philosophy and its Objectives

[1:47] And another definition of the study of truths about reality, the search for wisdom.

[1:52] And another one is to say, this is from Miriam's, the love, study, or pursuit of wisdom, or of knowledge, of things and their causes, whether theoretical or practical.
The study of all wisdom at the source, and of all principle as creation.
Now, we start to get into capitals. I'm not going to try and hold this up to you, but we start to get into capitals a little bit towards the end there.
And my experience has been that whenever you start to get capitals, like wisdom is capitalized and principle and creation is capitalized, that you are drifting into a new amino platonic realm or basically the realm of ideals, which is not what I deal with in terms of philosophy.
Another definition is the study of seeking knowledge and wisdom in understanding the nature of the universe, man, ethics, art, love, purpose, etc.
Nice. but study to me is a little bit sort of vague.

[2:46] And here's another one. The objects of philosophy are upon the whole the same as those of religion.
In both, the object is truth in that supreme sense in which God and God only is truth.
Well, I would disagree with that with an energy and emphasis that I could scarcely express here without launching into a series of acrobatics that the camera probably couldn't catch Because, you know, they'd be so fast and ninja-like.
And there's a number of other ones that I think are quite interesting.

Philosophy as a Corrective Science for Human Error

[3:22] But basically, the idea behind philosophy is that there is a capacity for error within the human mind.

[3:32] And because there is capacity for error within the human mind, we need a science or a set of logical propositions that are going to help rescue us from error.
Now, I'm just going to put this down and I'll stroll around a little bit here.
I found it a little bit nicer for me to have a bit of a stroll while chatting with you because it keeps me a little bit sort of looser.
But the The first thing to understand when it comes to looking at something like philosophy is to understand that there has to be capacity for error, otherwise there's no need for anything corrective, right?
I mean, if you think about something like the science of nutrition, then we have the capacity to eat poorly, and having just come back from an all-inclusive vacation, I can certainly attest that that is on occasion a vice of mine as well.
Well, so we all have the capacity to eat poorly, and therefore we need a science or a discipline or a methodology for determining how to eat well.
If we had no capacity to eat poorly, there would be no—like plants don't have a science of nutrition because they grow towards sunlight, do their photosynthesis, and live that way, but they can't exactly be tempted by a chocolate eclair, say. I mean, they're just growing towards the sun, and that's what they do.
And so, you have to have a capacity for a deviation from an ideal or a perfect state.

[4:57] And because you have the capacity to deviate from it, you need a set of principles by which you can judge your actions and hopefully develop them into good habits.
The idea behind nutrition is not to get you to forego all pleasurable eating in life and live on watercress and vitamin pills.
Actually, that would be bad nutrition too. but it is to attempt to get you to understand the consequences of your actions so that you can make more informed decisions about how you want to eat and what you want to eat and from there you can hopefully strike a balance and find some good way of eating and so on.
Now a nutritionist will also tell you of course that it's possible that eating well is eating a variety it's okay to have a piece of cheesecake once in a while it's okay to go to McDonald's once in a while but a good diet combined with exercise and this and that and the other, water intake, is all related to health, which brings us to another topic that's related to the topic of philosophy, which is the philosophy of medicine.

Philosophy of Medicine: Prevention and Cure

[5:59] So, there is an ideal state of human health, which is never achieved, right, in the same way that you can't eat perfectly, you can't achieve perfect health.
We all have viruses running through us, maybe we get a bad night's sleep, we got a headache, we stub our toe, some sort of negative consequences going on.
And so the science of medicine is the science of it's sort of related into two areas the first is in the realm of prevention which is somewhat related to nutrition and that is of course designed to help you avoid ending up with particularly difficult situations from a medical standpoint so for instance if you eat too much sugar and don't exercise and don't take care care of yourself, then your odds of contracting or developing, sorry, of developing diabetes go up quite considerably.

[6:48] Now, medicine, and this is more in conjunction with nutrition and exercise, has a good deal to say about how to prevent diabetes from coming into being.
However, if you end up getting diabetes, then medicine also has something useful to say about how to to manage the symptoms about how to take your insulin and how to do all these things so that you don't end up dying, losing a limb, losing your eyesight, whatever it is, from the problem of diabetes.
So prevention is one aspect of it, and cure is another aspect of it.
And so if we look at these sort of disciplines, then we can say that there is a right way to do things, there's a the wrong way to do things.
There's no perfect optimal under all situations way to do things but just because there's no such thing as perfect health doesn't mean that there's no difference between somebody who's got a mild cold and somebody who's dying of cancer.

[7:46] To use another metaphor, there is salt water in the sea, and there is fresh water in a lake.
Now, the fresh water in a lake has a small amount of salt and minerals and so on, impurities in it, and the salt water in the sea has an enormous amount of those things.
So, while there are differences of degree in terms of more salt and less salt.

The Difference between Seawater and Freshwater

[8:10] It's still far better to drink lake water than it is to drink seawater.
So, I sort of want to explain that just because there's gray areas, like no lake water is perfectly pure, and it's not like seawater is a solid block of minerals and salt.
Just because there are differences of degree between seawater and freshwater doesn't mean that there's fundamentally no difference between them.
They're not just differences of degree from that standpoint. point.
So while none of us is perfectly healthy, there's still a very large degree between me standing here right now talking to you. I have no head cold.
I haven't stubbed my toe. I'm feeling good. I had a good night's sleep.
There's still a huge difference between that, although I do have viruses and bacteria in my intestines and all that kind of stuff.
There is a huge degree of difference between myself standing here before you in a relatively healthy state and somebody dying of cancer in the same way that there's a difference in kind, not just in degree, in the potability or the drinkability of seawater as opposed to lake water, even though lake water contains minerals and seawater contains H2O and so on, which you can drink, there's still a very large difference between those two states.
So, when we start thinking about philosophy.

[9:21] Relating it to these other fields that we've been talking about, I think it's useful to understand that there is an ideal state in philosophy, and we could call it virtue or knowledge or wisdom or whatever.
We'll not get into the definition of that probably today, but we just want to talk about the framework of how philosophy works and why it's important and why it's relevant and why it's, I would say, absolutely necessary to the pursuit of happiness and joy and efficacy and fulfillment and all the good things in life.
So, the human mind has the capacity for error in the same way that the human body has the capacity for error in terms of the furtherance of life.
So we could say that a stroke or a heart attack or diabetes or cancer or Alzheimer's or AIDS or whatever, that these physical conditions within the body are deviations from the ideal state of health and the furtherance of life.
And so when we talk about health, there's an ideal state and there are deviations from it which are correctable.
So, for instance, when we see somebody who's 95 years old, obviously they're not going to be, you know, leaping up, taking the stairs two at a time.
They're going to be sort of laboring up or maybe using one of those whiz-bang kind of things that go up by the stairs, elevators or whatever.

[10:41] But we would not say that the 95-year-old person is not well because they can't bound the steps up two at a time.
However, a sort of relatively fit or at least not overweight 15-year-old boy should be able to leap up the stairs two at a time.
And if that boy cannot leap up the stairs two at a time, then we have some idea that there's a problem, right?
There's a deviation. So, where there is correction, where the correction is possible, then nutrition and philosophy and medicine and all of these things are valid sciences, valid approaches to this problem.
So, to take an extreme example, if you had some sort of ailment that we could only perhaps hope to get, where your body changed its metabolic physiological structure in some manner, that eating cookies and ice cream and chocolate and eclairs and all those goodies, that that was the only food that you could survive on.

[11:44] If that was the case then the science of nutrition would not really be very helpful so if there are only five things you could eat and you wanted to eat them all because they tasted good then the science of nutrition would not be that that helpful so similarly we can't correct something like aging we can ameliorate some of its causes but you know for sure by the time we get to 110 120 at the outside i think if statistics are correct we're going to be dead And so somebody who's 95 has a different standard of health than somebody who's 15.

Aging as a Deviation from the Ideal State

[12:19] A 15-year-old should be able to run up the stairs, run around, and so on.
We don't expect that from the 95-year-old, but we would not say that the 95-year-old who can't bound up the stairs two at a time is really seriously ill.
We'd just say, well, they're getting old, right? Now, there's no, as yet, no medical correction for the problem of aging. Problem?
Look at me using some unhyperboles. But there's no medical correction for the problem of aging.
And so, where there is no correction possible, there really is no ideal state that there is a deviation from.
And we say some people age well, some people age badly. Some people can play tennis until they're 80.
Some people are unfit and unhealth by the time they're 40 or 50.
So, there are differences of degrees, but the fundamental deterioration, that occurs when we age is not something that can be corrected at the moment by medical science.
It can be sort of managed and the effects can be alleviated, but...

[13:13] Getting old is not the same as getting sick. And the reason that I'm pointing this out is that we do need to have a standard that we try to achieve as sort of conceptual or cognizant or intellectual beings in the realm of philosophy.
There's a deviation from that standard, right?
And the solutions are not always obvious, right?
Obvious solutions don't necessarily require a whole lot lot of intervention, right?
So you don't need probably a nutritionist to tell you that if you're thirsty, you should drink something, or your body's going to say that to you.
You don't need a doctor to tell you that if you put your hand, assuming you don't have leprosy or something which has numbed your extremities, you don't need a doctor to tell you that if you put your hand in a fire, you should pull it out, right?
You know, sort of leave it in the fire, go, hmm, now I'm getting hungry, sort of then call 911 when your hand falls off, because there's an obvious solution that's sort of baked into our physiological nature to deal with those kinds of issues around, you know, pull your hand back, you know, so when you stub your toe, you go down and rub it or, you know, if you sprain your ankle, you may not need a doctor to tell you not to put a lot of weight on that ankle because it's going to kind of hurt you if you do.

[14:26] So, there's a couple of things which I'm talking about here which combine to make philosophy Philosophy, a very interesting science, that is relative to other sciences, shouldn't be overly baffling.
Now, there's a lot of bafflement in the realm of philosophy, but that's for a variety of reasons we may get into today, depending on my stamina and concentration.
Exaggeration, but I just sort of wanted to point out, you know, there's an ideal state, there are deviations from the ideal state, there are sciences and logics and approaches which can close the ideal state from the non-ideal state, and that the solutions are non-obvious, right? So.

Exercise as a Chore, Not a Pleasure

[15:08] Jogging on a pavement, actually, forget that, getting on a stairmaster, I don't know about you, maybe you love it, I go to the gym and do these kinds of things because they're good for me, not because I get this huge, I know you get runner's high and endorphins and so on.
But for me, exercise is, you know, a little bit of a chore, not like playing badminton and stuff, but you know, going doing weights and stuff like that, is a little bit of a chore.
And so, if you merely went by your physical feedback mechanisms, right, your neuropsychological.

The Non-Intuitive Nature of Healthy Eating

[15:45] Mechanisms, you'd sit around eating cheesecake and wouldn't go to the gym.
I mean, just based on our biology, there's just no way that broccoli is ever going to taste as good as a chocolate bar.

[15:55] So, the natural impulses that we have would be towards eating sweet and fat things.
Obviously, we develop those things because those things are essential for life but a rarity.
And so, we needed to have a higher motivation to go and get them.
You can't live on lettuce and tomatoes.
You need fat and sugar. And so we had strong biochemical receptors, indicators, and positive feedback mechanisms to get us to pursue those things during the time of our evolutionary development.
Now, of course, they're overly plentiful, all these sorts of problems, but fundamentally, the solution that a nutritionist has to come up with is sort of non-intuitive, right?
So, when the doctor says you need to eat more salads, you need to eat less fat, you need to eat less sugar, and you need to exercise more, it's kind of counterintuitive because our biological feedback mechanism leads us towards the dessert tray and then the couch.
And so, there's certain non-intuitive things that you need to do in the realm of prevention or sort of self-care or self-maintenance that are important to know about because if you just follow your indicators, then you're not going to have much luck achieving your goals if your goals are health and all that kind of stuff.

[17:16] So, from that standpoint, philosophy also fits into that as well.
So a lot of things in life are not necessarily intuitive, and yet if you pursue them, they can be very beneficial and very helpful for you in terms of achieving and maintaining happiness in the world and having a rich life full of love and joy and intimacy and all of that kind of juicy stuff. stuff.
And some of that stuff, for sure, falls into the realm of psychology, which is a subset of philosophy, as all human knowledge really is a subset of philosophy.
And what you want to do when you're starting to understand how human beings acquire knowledge and why and what the purpose is and so on, is to recognize that there are lots of truths about the world that are not intuitive, but nonetheless are very true.
And some trivial examples are, and I guess not if you're an an astronaut, but some trivial examples are things like, you know, the world looks flat.

[18:14] I look like I'm living inside your monitor. Actually, I'm not.
The world looks flat, but it's actually round. The sun and the moon look about the same size, but they're not at all the same size.
It looks like, when you look at the night sky and you trace the movement of the stars, it looks like the stars are spinning around the Earth.
We feel like we're not in motion, but of course that's not the case.
The idea that they had in the Middle Ages that the stars were holes poked in a black bowl that rolled around the Earth, obviously not quite so true.
When you see an eclipse, it's clear that the moon and the sun are sort of like the size of a dime held at arm's length.
When you see an eclipse, the moon looks like it covers the sun almost completely, but of course that's because the sun is 93 million miles away.
The moon is a quarter million miles away. The sun is 93 million miles away.

[19:04] And so, it's the disparity in distance that creates the illusion that they're the same size.
So, we have some truths there, for instance, that are not intuitive, and so human beings do have the capacity for error.
Now, when we talk about having a capacity for error, the question, of course, is in relationship to what?
In relationship to what? And that's sort of the fundamental thing.
So, when we talk about health, we want longevity and an absence of pain.
Longevity, vitality, energy, and absence of pain. That's sort of the general idea behind health.
So, we know that we're deviating from those things if, say, we die, right?
Clearly, there's a deviation from an ideal state.
When we experience pain, when our vitality decreases, when our energy, or ability to draw breath, whatever it is, whenever that begins to decline within us, we know that we're deviating from an ideal state.

[20:03] And similarly in nutrition, if we begin to gain weight or we get diabetes or whatever, then we know that we are deviating from an ideal state.
Now, the question is, of course, in philosophy, what is the ideal state, and how do we know that we've deviated from it?
In other words, what is the truth, and how do we know the deviation from it?
Well, if we look at our good friends, the physical scientists and the biologists to some degree, but I'll just stay with physics for the moment, then we can see that there is an ideal state, and the ideal state, or the state of truth, right? Truth is something that lives within us.
There's no truth in the exterior world.
You don't kick over a rock and up shoots a big sprig of truth or something.
Truth doesn't rain from the sky in driblets or anything like that.
Truth is the correlation between internal ideas and external reality.
And we're just talking about the scientific method at the moment.
We'll get to philosophy in just a moment.

[21:01] So when we say that something is true, and we're saying a bunch of things when we say something is true.
We obviously have to say that there's the capacity for it not to be true.
There's a capacity for it not to be true.

[21:16] Because otherwise, there's nothing to say that there's true or false.
We're saying that something is true is not a subjective statement.
One of the differences between truth and opinion is that truth has external validation. Again, we're just talking about scientific method for the most part here.
What goes on in science, also very accurate and useful in terms of what goes on in philosophy as well.
So when we say something is true, we're saying that there is a mental concept or a thesis, right?
The way that it works in science is if I say that objects fall from the sky at 9.8 meters per second per second, that's their acceleration, then that's a proposition.
I put forward a proposition that says that. that Einstein puts them forward, Copernicus and Kepler and Galileo and Newton and Hawking, all of these people, they put forward propositions.

[22:09] And so the proposition is something falls from the sky down, 9.8 meters per second per second, is the acceleration of it, absent things like atmospheric interference and so on.
So that's a proposition. Now, it's not true.
You could say it's true that I put forward a proposition, but it's not that the proposition has been proven true just by sort of saying it.
What you have to measure the proposition against in the scientific world is external tangible reality.
This is sort of very important when it comes to thinking about science, and of course, as we'll get to in a moment, or maybe we will if we won't, human conflict.
So if I say, put forward a thesis, 9.8 meters per second per second is the acceleration of objects towards Earth, blah, blah, blah.

[22:54] Then what has to happen is somebody has to—me, maybe—but somebody has to go and measure this.
Somebody has to go and measure this to actually find out whether my idea corresponds with the behavior of matter in the real world, in the world external to consciousness.
It's not the consciousness. It's not part of the real world.
And it's biochemical, and it's neurological, and there's nothing mystical about it, or at least certainly there's nothing proved about the soul or anything like that. We just talk about the mind being part of reality from an electrical, chemical kind of energy way.

[23:27] But I put forward a proposition, then that proposition has to be validated in the real world, right?
So the way that we validate a proposition in the scientific realm is we test it.
Simple as that, right? We test it and we do a statistical analysis on variation.
The tests are never going to be perfect, they just have to be close enough.
9.8 meters per second per second, you could probably go to 500 decimal places and still not be perfectly correct.
And then maybe it's windy, and maybe it's this, and maybe it's that.
So again, we're back in the realm where there are certain amounts of gray areas right at the core of things.
Only in mathematics can you say 2 plus 2 is 4 and have it be perfectly true.
You put 2 and 2 oranges together, they're different shapes, different weights, different sizes.
But when you put 2 and 2 of them together, you still have 4 oranges, even though you don't have a perfect reproduced set of 4. And we can get into all that another time. time.
But again, just because there's gray areas right down at the core of things doesn't mean that there's no difference between truth and falsehood, right? This is sort of very important to understand.
If I offer you seawater versus lake water to drink, even though lake water is not pure, as I mentioned earlier, you'll still choose to drink the lake water unless you want to, you know, I don't know, you want to be sick or something.
So from that standpoint, we then take something in the proposition in the scientific realm and we attempt to reproduce it through physical experimentation.

[24:44] And it has to be reproducible. It can't be necessarily location-dependent.
It can't be time-dependent.
Because we're dealing with physical reality, which has objective and universal laws, you can't say, well, in Norway, it's 9.8 meters per second per second. In an Iceland, it's 2.2.
And, you know, things don't even fall down in Thailand.
So, we have to have some methodology by which we compare our ideas to external, physical, tangible reality in order to validate them.
So when we say something is true, what we're saying is that.

The nature of logic and mathematics in the real world

[25:21] It's either logical—logic is a complicated topic, because we'll get to it another time—but it's sort of one of the things.
So, when you're dealing with a theory in mathematics, you don't necessarily have to produce the things that you're talking about in the real world.
Mathematics is a certain kind of logic that does not require—it requires independent verification and fact-checking and logic-checking and so on—sorry, logic-checking.
But it doesn't require physical experiments in the same way that physics does.
Or you don't have to go and measure how fast the ball falls down.

[25:52] So when we have a proposition or an idea within our mind, we have the capacity for error.
It's very fundamental, right? So we look at the world, it looks flat.
We look at the sun and the moon, they look like the same size and so on.
So then what we need to do is we need to compare the ideas that we have and the predictability of those ideas and compare those to what actually happens in the real world and that's how we determine whether something is true or whether something is false.
Now, the question to the degree to which we are capable of achieving truth and the degree to which we are capable of stumbling into error is very important.
We'll spend a few minutes on it now before wrapping up. This is sort of part one and we'll keep going.
But the question that always comes up in this sort of area is really around the validity of the senses.
It's a very, very important question because if the senses, like, that's how we get information from the outside world, right?
I know that I'm looking at my Sony camera, and I know that I'm recording because the spectrograph is doing its thing, and I know that I'm standing in my study in Canada, and so on, because of the evidence of my senses, right?

Descartes' theory of the validity of senses

[27:05] Descartes had this theory that it could be possible that we all were like a brain in a tank, and we are being manipulated by an external devil that's creating all of the sensory input in a perfectly consistent kind of way, and so on.
That's a very interesting idea, and of course he was trying to rescue the Christian deity from that, from a certain amount of skepticism at the time.
We can certainly understand why he'd want to do that, if not necessarily respect the methodology.

[27:28] But of course the problem with theories like that is that there's no sort of what's technically called a null hypothesis and what that means is that there's no way to disprove them right so if somebody makes to you the argument they say well you could just be a brain at the tank and and all of your uh all of your sensory input is being manipulated by some evil demon and blah blah blah blah well certainly possible certainly possible however um descartes of course this this is the I think, therefore I am thing, right?
He would say that I may be entirely wrong about everything that I'm getting in terms of my senses and my sensory input, but I still exist because I'm being fooled and something is fooling me and so on.
So that's where he got the I think, therefore I am, that that was the only thing that he could really feel that had to be true from a logistic standpoint or a sort of axiomatic standpoint, which is that he existed and that someone was fooling him and so on.
But as I said earlier, in order to call something true, it has to have the capacity to be false.

[28:28] And the problem with this argument that all of our sensory data could be being manipulated by some external demon with her brain in a tank in some sick lab or whatever is that there's no null hypothesis, right? There's simply no way.
It's like if you've ever had a conversation with a paranoid person, it's like talking to them about, you know, how you break them out of their theories, right?
Ah, the CIA is watching me. Well, have you seen any? No.
See, that's how good they are, right? I mean, if I'd seen them, I wouldn't worry as much because then it wouldn't be the CIA because the CIA, whatever, whatever, right?
So if there is somebody watching you, then you are being shadowed by the CIA.
And if there isn't somebody watching you or you can't see them, it's because they're hiding and they're really good at it, right?

The problem with propositions that cannot be disproven

[29:08] So if there's no way to disprove a proposition, it actually has no truth or false value statement and it's not something that can really be conversed about, right?
If I say, I'm actually a voice in your head, and you're not actually looking at a screen, you're having a dream, and I'm sent from the future, and blah, blah, blah.

[29:25] Well, you know, okay, we could have that debate, but how would we know that that wasn't the case, right?
So, one of the ways that we can tell dreams from waking reality in a way that even children can master, but which a lot of philosophers seem to have trouble with, is that, of course, within dreams, objects don't have constancy, right?
You're walking along a street, it turns into a river, and then you're flying, and then you're doing this or that, and then you're talking to a guy who turns into an elephant.
Objects don't have consistency, and physical laws don't exist. You can fly.
I've had dreams where I'm sort of walking along the seabed and able to breathe and so on, so very clearly.
And of course, you travel without transition, right? So in a dream, you're in a ship, and then you're in a plane, and then you're walking in a desert, and then you're swimming in the sea, and there's no There's no transition between them.
Of course, how we know that we're in a dream state versus a waking state is we know that in the real world, there's object constancy, there's physical loss, there's transition time, there's all these sort of, they're consistent and not subject to our willpower.
But in dreams, you know, quite the opposite occurs. So, I mean, we can get into that in a little bit more detail, but there is a sort of fundamental question.
Is that of sensual evidence, right? The validity of the stuff that's coming in through our senses.

[30:35] Now, speaking of things coming in through our senses, time for a sip of coffee.

[30:39] Now, the way that we can understand or appreciate the validity of our physical senses is to understand why we have five of them, of course, right?
So, our physical senses, they do not provide, except in the event of dysfunction, like you're blind or you have a ringing tinnitus or ringing in your ear or something, And assuming that your senses are functioning in a healthy manner, it's certainly possible that one of your senses can provide information that you misinterpret, right? I mean, the senses are valid.
Our interpretation of the evidence of the senses is not valid.
So, to take an old example, if you think of a stick, and you put a stick in water, and you see where the surface tension exists, it bends light in the water, right? So it looks like the stick is sort of bent in water.
And if you look at that stick and you say, hey, the stick is bent right where the water is, or it has a sort of, it goes like it does a zigzag where the water is, then what you're saying is not what your eyes are telling you.
The eyes are telling you, this is the light rays.
You assemble it within your mind, and then you come to the conclusion that the stick is bent based on the evidence of your eyes.
It's fine but of course we have more than one sense right so what you can do is you can take your your fingertip and you can run it down the stick as it goes into the water and it doesn't feel bent right so then you have an inconsistency between your eye the evidence of your eyes.

[32:08] And the evidence of your fingers now your touch now it's important to understand that the eyes are not fooling you right the eyes are not designed to say this stick is straight that's It's something that occurs within our consciousness.
The eyes are designed to transmit light waves to the consciousness.

[32:26] And the light waves are doing a thing because of the refraction of the water that makes the stick look bent, right?
So the eyes are receiving and transmitting the light waves in a perfectly valid manner.
It's just that we're then interpreting that and saying the stick is bent, right?
A more accurate way of being saying the light waves are producing an appearance of disjointedness in the stick.
It seems a bit of a long and convoluted way of putting it, but that's still an important thing to understand, understand that the stick only appears bent to you, and you can validate it with your other senses.
So, another example, of course, is that let's say that you and I are walking in the desert, and we are standing in a desert, lots of heat, you know, it's hot, hot, hot.
And I look into the distance, and I see what appears to be a lake.
And I go, oh, man, that's great. I'm kind of hot, I'm kind of thirsty.
Let's run over to get to the lake.
Now, what I'm seeing, of course, say it could be a mirage. Probably, as a mirage, a lake in a desert would be a little bit unusual.
Mirages happen all the time.

The Nature of Perception and Interpretation

[33:32] Now, when we think of what our eyes are doing, right, what's happening is that light waves are bouncing between differently heated sort of layers of air and producing the appearance, right, of a lake.
Now, the light waves are bouncing and hitting my my eyes perfectly correctly, because my eye is all about transmitting light waves.
It's not about interpreting things to be a lake, right? I mean, mice have eyes, but I doubt that they interpret things like lake, right?
I mean, the eyes are simply just dumb transmitters of information.
And it's our mind which then interprets and assembles it into a sort of rationally cohesive view of the world.

[34:07] And so, if we're in this desert, and I look into the distance, and I say, look, there's a lake, then let's say that you and I had never heard of mirages before. It's our our first time in the desert, so we have no idea what's going on.
Well, we're going to say, well, there is a lake, right? And it looks to be about, I don't know, half a kilometer away, right?
So, we start sprinting our way towards the lake, but when we get there, the lake has moved, right?
So, so to speak, it's moved off into the distance. It's now still a half a kilometer away.
Well, I think then when we look at, we think that we're walking towards a lake or running towards a lake, we get there and there's no lake, then I think it's valid for us to say, huh, well, I don't think that what's happening is the lake is moving, because lakes don't move, except at a sort of geological pace.
And so, it probably is the case that we're receiving some sort of visual signal that we're misinterpreting as a lake.
And of course, that's why we have the word mirage. So, that's sort of one way of checking it, right?
You say, oh, there's a lake, you run towards it, there's no lake, it's moved, it's gone further, there's nothing to sort of dive into or drink.
And so, you say, well, you're validating the perception of there being a lake with your other their senses. You get there and you can't drink it or touch it or whatever, right? Taste it.

[35:17] Now, if we... So then if we say, well, it's probably not a lake, that's kind of correct, right? A good way of approaching it. But...
If we're in the desert, and I say, hey, look, a lake, right?
And it turns out that through some miracle, it actually is a lake.
And we run towards it. It seems about half a kilometer away.
And then we get there, and we dive in, and we splash ourselves, and we drink, and all that kind of stuff, horseplay.
Then I don't think at that point it's really valid for me to turn to you and say, you know what? I think this is all an illusion.
I think this is a hallucination because all of our senses are validating it.
The object properties for physical laws of matter are remaining constant.
And so I don't think it's valid for us then to say, oh, okay, well, whatever, right?

Senses, Logic, and Consistency: Validating Reality

[35:57] It's an illusion, right? As all our senses validate, it's logical, it's consistent, we close our eyes, we open, they're still there, we had transition time, and so on.
And so I think it's perfectly valid for us then to say, hey, we're in a lake, it's a real lake, and so on.
So that's sort of an important thing to understand when it comes to receiving information about reality through your senses.

[36:15] And that's what makes the scientific method, of course, so powerful, is that it It surmounts the evidence of the senses.
But, of course, it has to use the evidence of the senses in an alternative way to make its case.
So, for instance, back before, I don't know, geometric measuring devices and satellites and so on, and space pictures, how did we know the Earth was round?
Well, they put a stake in the ground in one place, and they put a stake in the ground in another place, hundreds and hundreds of miles away.
And then at noon, they measured the shadows, and they got a sense of that. that.
And then I think there was certain mathematical ways of when a ship went over the ocean, you saw it kind of, the hull and then the mast and all that went over. So, it looks like it was going down a slow slope.
Last but not least, of course, when there was an eclipse of the lunar eclipse, right?
So, when the Earth went between the sun and the moon, as the Earth's shadow went across the moon, you could see that it was rounded, right?
So, although the evidence of the senses when we're just sort of going about our daily life indicate or seem to indicate that the world is flat, we still have to use the evidence of our senses to see that the world's shadow is round when it goes against the moon, to measure these two sticks to see what their shadow is, to see the ship going down over the horizon on a slow slope, and so on.
So, the evidence of the senses simply requires verification, or requires a systematic organization of the evidence of the senses in order to come up with something that's true, or more true, versus something that's false.
Just because there's no perfect truth that we can always achieve, it doesn't mean that there's no difference between truth and falsehood, as we talked about earlier.

[37:44] So, I hope that that's a useful introduction to the ideas behind philosophy.
There has to be some ideal state, and generally in philosophy, the ideal state is the actions of the world in reality, which we obtain through the evidence of the senses and validate through rationality, and we can talk a little bit more about how the scientific principles or the scientific method works in terms of its connection to philosophical methods, perhaps in the next podcast, in my tightly sequenced reasoning flow here.
But I thought that this would be an interesting way for you to at least understand some of the ideas behind philosophy, why it's so helpful, we can get into in the next one, what kind of decisions it can really help you make, and why, why, why it's so important to examine your opinions to find out if they're true or not.

[38:33] And that's a very, very powerful and interesting pursuit. I hope you'll join me for it next time. This is, again, Stefan Molyneux from Freedomain Radio.
Thank you so much for listening, and I will talk to you soon.

Blog Categories

May 2024

Recent Comments

    Join Stefan Molyneux's Freedomain Community

    Become a part of the movement. Get exclusive content. Interact with Stefan Molyneux.
    Become A Member
    Already have an account? Log in
    Let me view this content first