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The Wonders of Project Image, and the General Nature of Illusion Magic vs. Reality

BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,632
OMG, I just got my IWD sorcerer up to level 7 spells in Heart of Winter, and I took Project Image for the first time since 1998.

After realizing what it does, I immediately had the image cast Invisibility on my true self. Then, it was free to cast my entire spellbook without revealing me, or actually expending any of my spells, or allowing any enemies to see my true self.

Good lord, I have read previous threads and advice about this spell, but, as long as my image casts Invisibility, and possibly Spell Immunity: Divination, on my true self, (or should it cast Spell Immunity: Divination on itself?) wouldn't that make me pretty much invulnerable while my image casts my entire spellbook at enemies, all without actually costing any of my real spells?

Is the limitation that it only takes one hit to dispel the Projected Image? But then, what if the Image casts Stoneskin and Mirror Image or the like on itself? Or, what if the rest of my party keeps any enemies off of the Image?

What exactly are the limitations of this spell?

Do some players avoid using it at all, declaring it the ultimate cheese?

Could some friends give me some insights here?

Regardless, good grief, what a powerful spell, and only 7th level. Maybe it should be rolled together with Simulacrum and made a 9th level spell? I can't believe I've never realized just how powerful it is before having read hints from this forum.

Opinions?

EDIT: This discussion, which started as my gush about the Project Image spell, has evolved into also being about the nature of illusion magic vs. reality.

Post edited by BelgarathMTH on
JLeeJuliusBorisovlolien
«1

Comments

  • WowoWowo Member Posts: 2,058
    It's the best spell for HoF to keep improved haste active on your melee characters for many, many fights.

    I don't bother with a sorcerer in HoF but I can certainly see the perks :)

    BelgarathMTHCrevsDaakJuliusBorisovlolien
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,632
    @Wowo, wow, good grief, what a wonderful idea! Four Improved Haste, times three Project Image, suddenly yields *twelve* Improved Haste spells! Or wait, it's *sixteen* Improved Haste spells when my final four real castings are added in.

    The possibilities here boggle my mind. ;)

    JLeeCrevsDaakJuliusBorisovlolien
  • WowoWowo Member Posts: 2,058
    edited December 2014

    @Wowo, wow, good grief, what a wonderful idea! Four Improved Haste, times three Project Image, suddenly yields *twelve* Improved Haste spells! Or wait, it's *sixteen* Improved Haste spells when my final four real castings are added in.

    The possibilities here boggle my mind. ;)

    Then you just have to entertain yourself with whatever spells are useful. Power Word: Blind, Wail of the Banshee, Chaos come to mind depending on your level.

    BelgarathMTHCrevsDaakJuliusBorisovlolien
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    @Jarrakul You say "[...] we don't perceive the world as it really is." But what is the world, really? How do you define it? [/metaphysical cliché]

    Off-topic, I guess. Back on topic, yes, PI is very strong. Very, very strong since AI doesn't really know what to do with it. I try to avoid overusing it.

    lolien
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,198
    Man I'm so tempted now to derail this thread with an ontological debate now...

    CrevsDaakBelgarathMTHlolien
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029

    @Jarrakul You say "[...] we don't perceive the world as it really is." But what is the world, really? How do you define it? [/metaphysical cliché]

    Well, one could say, for example, that the world is what we see. This rather dodges the question, in my opinion. The experienced world is entirely illusory, but the balance of probability is that it's caused by something outside our own minds. When I speak of "the world" I'm usually referring to that external something. Of course, figuring out what exactly that some *is* is far more difficult. Our perceptual system is unreliable in this regard. Many of the things we perceive has having ground truth answers simply don't. "What color is this?" for example, is not a question that can be concretely answered, because color is a purely subjective experience rather than a property of anything outside our heads. But one can reasonably define the world as the source of the information he perceptual system takes in, and ultimately of the evolutionary pressures that shaped that system. Using that definition, it's possible to sort of vaguely sketch with the world *probably* is, but the truth of the world, whatever that means, is likely so far outside our experiences that it would seem like something out of H. P. Lovecraft if we ever wrapped our minds around it.

    lolien
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,198
    Jarrakul said:

    the truth of the world, whatever that means

    That's the thing though, right? *Is* there such a thing as "truth", let alone "truth of the world"? What is "the world" anyway?

    Dammit, I couldn't resist! Yeah let's leave it for now or mods will poke me with a stick again...

    jackjack
  • GrammarsaladGrammarsalad Member Posts: 2,577
    edited December 2014

    ...

    As for my friend and me, neither of us had been to college and studied philosophy and psychology, both of which fields have several schools of thought that might have lent weight to my argument that "reality is what you believe it is, or that you have been convinced or made to believe that it is." ...

    No serious philosopher today would argue this. There are some strands that might argue that reality is whatever God thinks it is, but that is as far as you go.

    Many philosophers and psychologists will point out that the mind contributes to the construction of reality (ie the 'stuff' that forms the contents of or thoughts) but that is very different than saying that reality is whatever we think it is.

    We have this 'way' of perceiving the world, and if we were different sorts of creatures, we would perceive the world differently. Once sensory information is transduced into neural firings, the original modality (ie whether it is eg sight or hearing) no longer matters. The brain preferentially processes certain 'sorts' of stimulus patterns over others, and then (somehow) produces phenomenal experiences of the world. What this means is if we could (eg) feed auditory information into the visual cortex, the individual would 'see sounds' (this actually happens--lookup "synesthesia"--it is believed that babies--and adults--you and me!--to a lesser degree--experiences are synesthetic).

    We experience reality according to certain 'rules' imposed by the mind. These 'rules' are not "out there" but they are implicit in our representations (thoughts, perceptions) about real objects. And they are inescapable.

    Aristotle once wrote that truth relies on 'similarity' of reality with our thoughts. This is true as far as it goes, but it is senseless if that "reality"is something that is completely mind independent. "Mind independent objects"could not be 'like' anything because 'likeness'is a psychological (mind dependent) concept. The distinction between "reality and appearances"is really a distinction between objectivity/necessity and subjectivity/contingency.

    Edit: I could go on, but you want me to stop. :p

    BelgarathMTHjackjack
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,632
    edited December 2014
    @sarevok57 , I also had never used the spell before my session last night when I made this thread. I had always heard it was one of the best spells in the game, but I just always picked something else at seventh level that sounded better on paper. It wasn't until I actually finally tried it that I saw just how powerful it really is.

    Sorry about the split-off into discussing the nature of reality. For me that topic flows naturally from discussing powerful illusion magic in D&D. For example, is the projected image really casting spells, or is it only casting *illusions* of your spells? The "shadow spells" still kill opponents, because in the world of D&D, magical illusions are a real thing that can really kill you, if you "believe" them. (Remember what Aerie says to you about the werewolves in the circus tent.)

    Since you still have all your "real" spells after the illusion expires, I vote that the projected image isn't really casting them. Rather, you are using a spell to make your opponents *believe* that you are casting all your spells. Since they cause actual harm, one could also imagine this as a kind of psionic attack on enemy minds.

    Anyway, if there was any derailment of topic, I started it myself, and it's my own thread, so maybe we can let the discussion evolve and go where it will.

    I'll try to edit the topic title a bit to see if I can make the two things work together.

    FinneousPJJuliusBorisov
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    Oh god my nerdity is being encouraged. Well, okay, if you insist...

    There is a case for many things not having a real ground truth. It's very easy to argue that even seemingly concrete words like "color", "object", and "shape" don't actually reflect properties of the world. It's similarly easy to argue that we'll never really understand what the world is like. I find it substantially harder to argue that there's no such thing as properties for the world to have. Don't get me wrong, it's fundamentally impossible to prove that our perceptions are reflecting anything at all. Literally the only thing we can prove about the world is that we exist, in some form, and we can think and perceive (although what, if anything, we're perceiving is another matter entirely). But the principle of parsimony tells us that there probably is a world out there, because that's the simplest explanation for our experience. If the world exists, it has properties of some sort or another, so I would argue that there is *probably* a definition of truth that holds intrinsic merit. Of course not everything has a true state, but if we exist in a world, at least some things do (for example, if we exist in a world, then it's true that we exist in a world).

    Now, you'll note that I emphasized "probably" there. That implies a lack of certainty, and that lack of certainty is where the argument that there is no true world state comes from. Oddly enough, just as it's impossible to know 100% what the true state of the world is if we do, in fact, live in a world, it's also impossible to know 100% that we live in a world. It's possible that we don't, and there is no true state of anything to be found. However, the much simpler explanation is that we do live in a world, and between two explanations with no other advantages over one another, the simpler one does tend to be correct (although I'll grant that this is mildly circular, as it assumes that math is true). Hence, if one has to assume something, it makes more sense to assume that the world exists, and therefore that some things are true, even if we might ever know what they are. Although one should probably leave open the possibility that they aren't.

    Now, regarding the spell, it's one thing to say enemies are dying because they believe I cast fireball and had a heart attack. The problem arises with more persistent effects, and effects that target inanimate objects or mindless creatures. What does a skeleton care that I fireballed it, illusionary or otherwise? What does a lock care that I created a very convincing illusion of it unlocking? How does my friend return from the dead because I made it look like he did? If Project Image works by casting illusionary versions of its spells, that suggests something very interesting about the nature of the Forgotten Realms. It suggests, in fact, that the Realms are shaped by belief in much the same way as Planescape, or that reality is subjective as in Mage: The Ascension. Which, if true, would certainly be interesting.

    GrammarsaladBelgarathMTHJuliusBorisovjackjack
  • GrammarsaladGrammarsalad Member Posts: 2,577
    edited December 2014
    Jarrakul said:

    Oh god my nerdity is being encouraged. Well, okay, if you insist...

    There is a case for many things not having a real ground truth. It's very easy to argue that even seemingly concrete words like "color", "object", and "shape" don't actually reflect properties of the world. It's similarly easy to argue that we'll never really understand what the world is like. I find it substantially harder to argue that there's no such thing as properties for the world to have. Don't get me wrong, it's fundamentally impossible to prove that our perceptions are reflecting anything at all. Literally the only thing we can prove about the world is that we exist, in some form, and we can think and perceive (although what, if anything, we're perceiving is another matter entirely). But the principle of parsimony tells us that there probably is a world out there, because that's the simplest explanation for our experience. If the world exists, it has properties of some sort or another, so I would argue that there is *probably* a definition of truth that holds intrinsic merit. Of course not everything has a true state, but if we exist in a world, at least some things do (for example, if we exist in a world, then it's true that we exist in a world).

    Now, you'll note that I emphasized "probably" there. That implies a lack of certainty, and that lack of certainty is where the argument that there is no true world state comes from. Oddly enough, just as it's impossible to know 100% what the true state of the world is if we do, in fact, live in a world, it's also impossible to know 100% that we live in a world. It's possible that we don't, and there is no true state of anything to be found. However, the much simpler explanation is that we do live in a world, and between two explanations with no other advantages over one another, the simpler one does tend to be correct (although I'll grant that this is mildly circular, as it assumes that math is true). Hence, if one has to assume something, it makes more sense to assume that the world exists, and therefore that some things are true, even if we might ever know what they are. Although one should probably leave open the possibility that they aren't.

    ...

    Kant pwns Descartes :)
    We can be certain about a few things: we know that external objects will occupy space and persist through time; that they will be represented as external to a necessarily unified consciousness (Descartes' "I"); that a mind independent (x) exists because it " pushes " against our senses in various, contingent ways; that we can know nothing positive about this mind independent (?) because it need not confirm to a priori laws of representations, but that is fine because knowledge is about the world of sense experience; that all future possible objects of experience must conform to a priori laws of representation(else they could not be represented); that knowledge of the world consists of conformity of our thought to these necessary laws as they apply to sensed objects; that objects exist at all because they are subject to these laws; that Descartes is wrong, but right about some things; that Hume took Descartes philosophy to is logical conclusion, but was ultimately wrong in his skepticism--ie he went to far

    We can gain much by exploring the boundaries of the human mind; It turns out that this also forms the boundaries of reality. It is when we think of reality as being some mind independent x that we must devolve into skepticism because that "world" is nothing to us. All philosophers before Kant, and most after him are guilty of confusing realty with some mind independent x.

    For a concrete example, look at the matrix. Notice that the "real" world outside the matrix was much like the "illusionary" world. Why couldn't they have made it something completely alien, like a place where time moved backwards and large objects could fit in smaller objects, but not the other way around? We have this "way of knowing" which is exactly how we know anything at all; this "way" imposes objectivity in nature in the form of objective law, and we can gain objective knowledge of realty because these laws give reality an objective foundation.


    Edit: saves against illusion spells should be influenced by intelligence because illusions qua illusions must be incongruent with reality in some way, and a solid mind would recognize the discrepancy
    So, on topic now :D

    BelgarathMTHjackjack
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,632
    edited December 2014
    LOL, (read in the voice of Charles Nelson Reilly as Hoodoo at the end of the Lidsville theme song), 'How's this for a topper, ah-hee-hee-hurrr!"

    I just found a very interesting new abuse for Project Image. Apparently, there is no "five-summons limit" in IWD. So, I can get my projected image to use the Summoner's Staff +3 to summon 12 (well, maybe one or two less, depending on timing, before the image expires), freaking Invisible Stalkers. All without using any "real" charges from the Summoner's Staff.

    I just beat the petrifying beholder with only an invisible thief to control the summons, the image, only one invisible stalker, and three lesser Monster Summoning cannon fodder. The beholder petrified the image and one of the yetis I got from the spell, but so what if the image gets petrified? It isn't "real", after all.

    I was going to show you a screenie of my party and my image with twelve invisible stalkers, and sing, "On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, Twelve invisible stalkers...". Unfortunately, the image ran out of time and disappeared while I had only eleven invisible stalkers summoned. It will be interesting to see how these Christmas gift stalkers do, since the spectral guards in this scenario have been giving me a huge challenge up to now.

    I'm anticipating that they should do quite well as long as I don't run into any casters with Death Fogs or Death Spells, or such.

    Anyhoo, here's the screenie. I'd love to make this my Christmas card from me to fellow forumites.

    image

    FinneousPJJuliusBorisovGrammarsaladlolien
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029

    Kant pwns Descartes :)
    We can be certain about a few things: we know that external objects will occupy space and persist through time;

    No, we really don't. We know that we perceive objects that appear to be external. That's not the same thing. Even more notably, it's not clear that objects occupy space at all, and it is clear that they occupy vastly less space than they appear to, if they occupy any. The idea of solid objects is, for all intents and purposes, completely illusory according to physics. Of course it's possible that we're wrong about that, but it's also possible that we're right, so we don't know that external objects occupy space. It's also not entirely clear what "persist through time" means, since time is... weird. Also the idea of objects independent from one another is illusory, so it's not clear what it would mean for a given object to persist or not persist.
    that they will be represented as external to a necessarily unified consciousness (Descartes' "I"); that a mind independent (x) exists because it " pushes " against our senses in various, contingent ways;
    Again, we really don't know this. It's important to understand, here, that our consciousness is a very small part of our minds. If our subconscious created our entire experience out of nothing, our conscious minds would be none the wiser. I suppose you could define "mind" in such a way that the subconscious is a "mind independent" entity, but the conscious can't function without the subconscious, so I wouldn't recommend it.
    that we can know nothing positive about this mind independent (?) because it need not confirm to a priori laws of representations, but that is fine because knowledge is about the world of sense experience; that all future possible objects of experience must conform to a priori laws of representation(else they could not be represented); that knowledge of the world consists of conformity of our thought to these necessary laws as they apply to sensed objects; that objects exist at all because they are subject to these laws;
    This I agree with, so long as we're talking about objects in the purely perceptual sense.
    that Descartes is wrong, but right about some things; that Hume took Descartes philosophy to is logical conclusion, but was ultimately wrong in his skepticism--ie he went to far
    I'm not a philosopher by training, so if this is crucial to your argument you're gonna have to explain this one.
    We can gain much by exploring the boundaries of the human mind; It turns out that this also forms the boundaries of reality. It is when we think of reality as being some mind independent x that we must devolve into skepticism because that "world" is nothing to us. All philosophers before Kant, and most after him are guilty of confusing realty with some mind independent x.
    I find this circular. You define reality as experience, and then criticize people for theorizing on reality outside of experience. You can claim that it's fundamentally futile, and I'll agree (sort of; there's a zen-like acceptance to be gained by thinking along these lines, even if conclusions are fundamentally impossible), but you don't get to define your terms in ways no one else agrees with and then claim you win the argument because no one else's argument works under your definitions.
    For a concrete example, look at the matrix. Notice that the "real" world outside the matrix was much like the "illusionary" world. Why couldn't they have made it something completely alien, like a place where time moved backwards and large objects could fit in smaller objects, but not the other way around? We have this "way of knowing" which is exactly how we know anything at all; this "way" imposes objectivity in nature in the form of objective law, and we can gain objective knowledge of realty because these laws give reality an objective foundation.
    This presupposes an adaptive (well-functioning) brain whose purpose is to represent reality. There's no way to prove the brain is adaptive without assuming its perceptions have some merit (which is circular), and the weight of evidence is that the brain's purpose is not, in fact, to represent reality. So unless you define reality as perception (in which case, see previous paragraph), there's no concrete reason to believe the brain's mechanisms tell us anything at all about what may or may not be out there.

    BelgarathMTHGrammarsalad
  • WowoWowo Member Posts: 2,058
    Jarrakul said:

    Kant pwns Descartes :)
    We can be certain about a few things: we know that external objects will occupy space and persist through time;

    No, we really don't. We know that we perceive objects that appear to be external. That's not the same thing. Even more notably, it's not clear that objects occupy space at all, and it is clear that they occupy vastly less space than they appear to, if they occupy any. The idea of solid objects is, for all intents and purposes, completely illusory according to physics. Of course it's possible that we're wrong about that, but it's also possible that we're right, so we don't know that external objects occupy space. It's also not entirely clear what "persist through time" means, since time is... weird. Also the idea of objects independent from one another is illusory, so it's not clear what it would mean for a given object to persist or not persist.
    that they will be represented as external to a necessarily unified consciousness (Descartes' "I"); that a mind independent (x) exists because it " pushes " against our senses in various, contingent ways;
    Again, we really don't know this. It's important to understand, here, that our consciousness is a very small part of our minds. If our subconscious created our entire experience out of nothing, our conscious minds would be none the wiser. I suppose you could define "mind" in such a way that the subconscious is a "mind independent" entity, but the conscious can't function without the subconscious, so I wouldn't recommend it.
    that we can know nothing positive about this mind independent (?) because it need not confirm to a priori laws of representations, but that is fine because knowledge is about the world of sense experience; that all future possible objects of experience must conform to a priori laws of representation(else they could not be represented); that knowledge of the world consists of conformity of our thought to these necessary laws as they apply to sensed objects; that objects exist at all because they are subject to these laws;
    This I agree with, so long as we're talking about objects in the purely perceptual sense.
    that Descartes is wrong, but right about some things; that Hume took Descartes philosophy to is logical conclusion, but was ultimately wrong in his skepticism--ie he went to far
    I'm not a philosopher by training, so if this is crucial to your argument you're gonna have to explain this one.
    We can gain much by exploring the boundaries of the human mind; It turns out that this also forms the boundaries of reality. It is when we think of reality as being some mind independent x that we must devolve into skepticism because that "world" is nothing to us. All philosophers before Kant, and most after him are guilty of confusing realty with some mind independent x.
    I find this circular. You define reality as experience, and then criticize people for theorizing on reality outside of experience. You can claim that it's fundamentally futile, and I'll agree (sort of; there's a zen-like acceptance to be gained by thinking along these lines, even if conclusions are fundamentally impossible), but you don't get to define your terms in ways no one else agrees with and then claim you win the argument because no one else's argument works under your definitions.
    For a concrete example, look at the matrix. Notice that the "real" world outside the matrix was much like the "illusionary" world. Why couldn't they have made it something completely alien, like a place where time moved backwards and large objects could fit in smaller objects, but not the other way around? We have this "way of knowing" which is exactly how we know anything at all; this "way" imposes objectivity in nature in the form of objective law, and we can gain objective knowledge of realty because these laws give reality an objective foundation.
    This presupposes an adaptive (well-functioning) brain whose purpose is to represent reality. There's no way to prove the brain is adaptive without assuming its perceptions have some merit (which is circular), and the weight of evidence is that the brain's purpose is not, in fact, to represent reality. So unless you define reality as perception (in which case, see previous paragraph), there's no concrete reason to believe the brain's mechanisms tell us anything at all about what may or may not be out there.

    I agree, project image is a cool spell.

    MusignyBelgarathMTHGrammarsaladJarrakul
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,632
    edited December 2014
    @Wowo, as both a philosopher and a psychologist, I loved @Jarrakul's post. I found it insightful, thrilling, and a very intellecutally stimulating reminder of my college and graduate school days as a wannabe scholar.

    On the other hand, your little, succinct, jab-in-the-ribs, humorous summary of all philosophy and psychology, down to a nice little Zen reminder of the fact that we're playing a game, here, be it an intellectually stimulating one or not, gave me a gleeful and heart-felt belly laugh.

    Ho, ho, ho, everyone, Merry Christmas! God bless us every one!

    GrammarsaladBlackravenJarrakul
  • WowoWowo Member Posts: 2,058
    @BelgarathMTH‌ don't get me wrong, I loved @Jarrakul‌ 's post too, even if I struggled to follow all of it. I'm glad that you laughed, merry Christmas.

  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    Here's to that, @BelgarathMTH‌, and to you, @Wowo, for keeping my head out of my butt. :P

    I do apologize for difficulty following. Some of the arguments for difficult to make both succinctly and such that you don't need to go to school for several years in perception, which would be a ridiculous thing to expect. I think there are people who could make the argument for clearly than I, but alas, my skills are imperfect.

  • GrammarsaladGrammarsalad Member Posts: 2,577
    edited December 2014
    @Jarrakul‌
    There is a debate in the philosophy of philosophy about what is the 'first question' that one ought to ask as a philosopher: is it metaphysical, e.g. "What is it to exist?" or is it epistemic, e.g. "What is it to know?"

    According to Kant the ancients and the moderns before him tripped up on the first question, because they failed to properly address the second. The problem is that if we ask the metaphysical question first, we must presuppose the answer to the second, and the tendency is to suppose that knowledge that x is knowledge about something that it wholly independent of the mind.

    The one--if problematic--definition of this 'mind-independent x' is that it is by necessity independent of experience. We can see that this is so by noting the contradiction when we say that the existence of some x depends on its possibility of being represented and is yet is necessarily independent of all possible representation. So, we can try to define what it is to know in this way: to 'know that' is to have knowledge about something that is 'outside' of all possible representation. The key word here is "possible". So, how do we represent something that is outside of all possible representation? That is, how do we represent something that cannot possibly be represented?

    Kant should have asked for extreme patience when he offered up his 'Copernican' hypothesis: that reality must conform to the understanding mind; that it is not the mind that must conform itself to reality. When we understand what it is to know, then we must understand the rules that reality must conform to in order for it to be represented. Anything outside of those rules cannot be 'real' (to us) because we cannot refer to them in any way. For me to say that this computer is a mind-independent object is a performative contradiction; it is saying that this object of representation, this -mind-dependent object- is -not mind-dependent-; a classic contradiction.

    I cannot hope to explain this idea completely here, but we can start by contrasting the necessities of representation from the accidents of representation. You might note that you can represent your computer as being of a different color, or perhaps larger or smaller, or smashed to bits, but you cannot represent it as not taking up space, or not persisting through time. Lets imagine you have smashed it to pieces. Well, have you smashed 'it' to pieces or have you smashed some disconnected piece of sensory information into pieces? For something to undergo change is for it to have some underlying persistence; EDIT: that is, for a thing to be smashed, it must be represented as whole in one moment, and--that very same thing--as in pieces the next; we cannot represent anything at all without 'importing' persistence. EDIT: Concepts are unifying functions; they unify (ie categorize) a number of distinct, existant, and possible objects under themselves and they also unify sensory experiences of an object at some moment with a sensory experience of that object at another moment--this unification is not 'experienced' in perception; it is necessarily given in perception/representation of external objects. The term 'smashed' cannot have any meaning whatsoever without this persistence. So, to revise my question a couple sentences ago, have you smashed it to pieces or have you -disconnected bit of sensory information-.

    The contingencies, the accidents, are the alterable 'bits' that are given to you (color, size, whatever) in experience and the mind provides the necessities (i.e. the 'rules of all possible representation.)

    (It should not be presumed that this is just some pseudo-scientific babble. Contemporary cognitive psychology is Kantian in essence. Kant himself was a practicing physicist and he has either influenced or anticipated Darwin, Einstein and Chomsky to name a few. )

    As for the nature of illusion: Illusion cannot conform to these rules--it must be contingent and so empirical and so not not conform to necessary a prori laws of representation--, and we can note that inconsistency through persistent observation.

    EDIT: Heh, forgot that you can't use ">" and "<"

    Post edited by Grammarsalad on
    BelgarathMTH
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    So, first off, I should point out that I'm a cognitive psychologist, so I'm rather familiar with the assumptions of cognitive psychology. You're arguing (or so I interpret, and please correct me if I'm wrong) that our perceptions give us insight into reality, and that in fact "reality" can only be reasonably defined as that which can be mentally represented. Cognitive psychology in its present form argues neither of those things (although it certainly only concerns itself with things that can be mentally represented, for reasons both related to the specific field of study and the generally untenable nature of things that can't be represented), so I would take care in arguing that CogPsy is Kantian in that specific way.

    Now to the actual argument. I still find your point entirely circular. You argue about what can and cannot be represented, and this is entirely necessary for understanding the limits of reality-as-perceived, but it's utterly irrelevant to the question of whether there is anything beyond what we can perceive, or whether anything we perceive actually corresponds to anything other than the mind itself (incidentally, I'm still not quite sure I understand the definition of "independent" you're using, but that may be because I'm biased towards the statistical definition). I do agree that trying to answer "what it is to exist" without answering "what it is to know" is utterly ridiculous, but I disagree that that means the two questions are in any way equivalent. In fact, the ridiculousness of trying to answer the first question at all is a good bit of my point.

    (Also, because it's hard to assess tone in writing, it is at this point in the discussion that I feel I should just say that I am enjoying this discussion and absolutely bear no ill-will in regards to it. I enjoy the opportunity to learn about a field related to my own, but which I have little direct experience in, and to apply the logic of my own field to traditional philosophical arguments as best I can.)

    BelgarathMTHjackjackGrammarsaladJLee
  • GrammarsaladGrammarsalad Member Posts: 2,577
    edited December 2014
    Jarrakul said:

    So, first off, I should point out that I'm a cognitive psychologist, so I'm rather familiar with the assumptions of cognitive psychology. You're arguing (or so I interpret, and please correct me if I'm wrong) that our perceptions give us insight into reality, and that in fact "reality" can only be reasonably defined as that which can be mentally represented. Cognitive psychology in its present form argues neither of those things (although it certainly only concerns itself with things that can be mentally represented, for reasons both related to the specific field of study and the generally untenable nature of things that can't be represented), so I would take care in arguing that CogPsy is Kantian in that specific way.

    This is a philosophical argument, and so, as you say, is not really a 'topic' in cognitive psychology per se. The point about cognitive psychology being essential Kantian is separate from this argument. One need not accept it in order to do psychology. But Kant gave us--mostly through Helmholtz--the foundation upon which the whole discipline stands. His influence is hard to overestimate and very easy to underestimate.

    Now to the actual argument. I still find your point entirely circular. You argue about what can and cannot be represented, and this is entirely necessary for understanding the limits of reality-as-perceived, but it's utterly irrelevant to the question of whether there is anything beyond what we can perceive, or whether anything we perceive actually corresponds to anything other than the mind itself (incidentally, I'm still not quite sure I understand the definition of "independent" you're using, but that may be because I'm biased towards the statistical definition). I do agree that trying to answer "what it is to exist" without answering "what it is to know" is utterly ridiculous, but I disagree that that means the two questions are in any way equivalent. In fact, the ridiculousness of trying to answer the first question at all is a good bit of my point.
    You sound so much like Hume! That is one of the highest compliments I ever give. :)


    Hume would agree with every word you are saying as he said much the same himself. To him things like 'causation' and 'substance' and so on were mere conventions--(useful) habits of the mind. One can and should think of this as Kant's starting point. Kant was giddy with the science of his day, and he was eager to find some objective foundation that would give them some kind of epistemic authority. One of Kant's most well known quotes is that Hume, 'woke him from his dogmatic slumbers.'

    One of the things that Hume glossed over, and that Kant emphasized, is that these useful habits of mind are 'hardwired'. They can be compared with actual conventions like (say) dinner etiquette. One can imagine a large variation in the rules of etiquette, but there is no contrast for how we represent the external world as consisting of substantial objects that causally interact (among other things). Kant actually thought that this suggested that the world 'outside' could Not be temporal and spatial, believe it or not. One should think of this as 'negative knowledge' in a similar way that we can know that 'itches' don't exist in the 'outside' world without knowing anything whatever about the 'outside' world--rather this is knowledge about the nature of itches--that they need to be experienced to be actual, or in the case of temporal and spatial intuition, that time and space are the forms of all possible perceptual experience. Whatever the case, we can agree with Hume (and presumably with you) that causation may not 'exist as a thing-in-itself' and yet not be perturbed at all.

    Why? Because we have representations and representations necessarily have content. IE representations are always 'about' things. Whatever those things are, they are the things that we have knowledge (or at least beliefs) about. Categories (and the forms of intuition) give these representations objectivity in the form of intrinsic immutable laws--a 'strainer' if you will--that all representations must be 'strained' through. They determine not just the form that human knowledge must take, but also exactly what we 'mean' when we talk about something (like "reality" or "existence"). When we say that we 'really' mean some 'reality' or 'existence' outside of this framework, then we contradict ourselves (see above) with the presumption that we can represent something that is not subject to representation. EDIT: By 'not subject to representation' I mean 'not subject to the laws of representation--as we both agree, the 'external mind-independent world' may not be causal etc. EDIT2: i.e. they are not subject to necessary a prori laws of representation that would make thoughts about them coherent. There is a simple argument for this. If something is necessarily subject to a prori laws of representation, then it is not possible that it is not subject to those laws. It is possible that this 'something' is not subject to these laws. Therefore it is not necessarily subject to a priori laws of representation. Put another way, let us assume that if A is true, then necessariy B is true. B is false. Necessarily then A must be false. Let us assume that this conclusion is false, that A could be true if B is false. Well, if this is the case we are saying that if A, then -B. An interpretation of the first premise and this latter assumption is respectively: (A & B ) and (A & -B ). If A & B, then B. If A and -B , then -B. Combine B and -B, you have a contradiction. QED :D

    And yes, I know this is not satisfying. But philosophy is like science: if the truth is unsatisfying, then it is my job to disappoint.
    (Also, because it's hard to assess tone in writing, it is at this point in the discussion that I feel I should just say that I am enjoying this discussion and absolutely bear no ill-will in regards to it. I enjoy the opportunity to learn about a field related to my own, but which I have little direct experience in, and to apply the logic of my own field to traditional philosophical arguments as best I can.)
    Completely agreed! I often look at something I've written and think, "What an Asshole!" It is a sad fact that if you don't write like an asshole, you are not taken seriously. It's a difficult habit to break, even when you are having a relatively light conversation.

    EDIT: Blockquote

    Post edited by Grammarsalad on
    BelgarathMTHJarrakul
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029

    This is a philosophical argument, and so, as you say, is not really a 'topic' in cognitive psychology per se. The point about cognitive psychology being essential Kantian is separate from this argument. One need not accept it in order to do psychology. But Kant gave us--mostly through Helmholtz--the foundation upon which the whole discipline stands. His influence is hard to overestimate and very easy to underestimate.

    I don't exactly disagree here, but note that I could say the same about Freud, while rejecting almost everything he said about the mind. CogPsy definitely approaches reality in a fundamentally Kantian way, but it does so on the principle that that's a useful way to view reality, and that his arguments form a highly likely theory for how we can understand the world, but not that Kant's theories are *necessarily* correct. This distinction is important, because the difference between a deductive proof and an inductive probabilistic judgment is precisely the point I'm arguing.
    You sound so much like Hume! That is one of the highest compliments I ever give. :)
    Then I thank you most graciously.

    Hume would agree with every word you are saying as he said much the same himself. To him things like 'causation' and 'substance' and so on were mere conventions--(useful) habits of the mind. One can and should think of this as Kant's starting point. Kant was giddy with the science of his day, and he was eager to find some objective foundation that would give them some kind of epistemic authority. One of Kant's most well known quotes is that Hume, 'woke him from his dogmatic slumbers.'

    One of the things that Hume glossed over, and that Kant emphasized, is that these useful habits of mind are 'hardwired'. They can be compared with actual conventions like (say) dinner etiquette. One can imagine a large variation in the rules of etiquette, but there is no contrast for how we represent the external world as consisting of substantial objects that causally interact (among other things). Kant actually thought that this suggested that the world 'outside' could Not be temporal and spatial, believe it or not. One should think of this as 'negative knowledge' in a similar way that we can know that 'itches' don't exist in the 'outside' world without knowing anything whatever about the 'outside' world--rather this is knowledge about the nature of itches--that they need to be experienced to be actual, or in the case of temporal and spatial intuition, that time and space are the forms of all possible perceptual experience. Whatever the case, we can agree with Hume (and presumably with you) that causation may not 'exist as a thing-in-itself' and yet not be perturbed at all.
    I'm actually more than a little perturbed at that thought, but it's one that I accept nonetheless. I've learned over the years that a thought being perturbing is rarely a good reason to think it false. But yes, I quite agree with the ideas presented in these paragraphs.
    Why? Because we have representations and representations necessarily have content. IE representations are always 'about' things. Whatever those things are, they are the things that we have knowledge (or at least beliefs) about. Categories (and the forms of intuition) give these representations objectivity in the form of intrinsic immutable laws--a 'strainer' if you will--that all representations must be 'strained' through. They determine not just the form that human knowledge must take, but also exactly what we 'mean' when we talk about something (like "reality" or "existence"). When we say that we 'really' mean some 'reality' or 'existence' outside of this framework, then we contradict ourselves (see above) with the presumption that we can represent something that is not subject to representation. EDIT: By 'not subject to representation' I mean 'not subject to the laws of representation--as we both agree, the 'external mind-independent world' may not be causal etc. EDIT2: i.e. they are not subject to necessary a prori laws of representation that would make thoughts about them coherent. There is a simple argument for this. If something is necessarily subject to a prori laws of representation, then it is not possible that it is not subject to those laws. It is possible that this 'something' is not subject to these laws. Therefore it is not necessarily subject to a priori laws of representation. Put another way, let us assume that if A is true, then necessariy B is true. B is false. Necessarily then A must be false. Let us assume that this conclusion is false, that A could be true if B is false. Well, if this is the case we are saying that if A, then -B. An interpretation of the first premise and this latter assumption is respectively: (A & B ) and (A & -B ). If A & B, then B. If A and -B , then -B. Combine B and -B, you have a contradiction. QED :D
    This is clearly the crux of your argument, but I've gone through it several times and I'm not confident I quite follow. I understand the logic that if something can be represented, it cannot also be true that that thing cannot be represented. This is obvious. Do I understand correctly that you're saying that, since we can conceive of (and therefore represent) something we can't represent, that means we can actually represent it, and therefore such a thing must not exist? If so, I would argue that there's a substantial difference between representing something and representing the space that a thing does not occupy. Think of this in terms of imagining new colors. I can easily imagine the idea of a new color, and I know that such a color must be unlike any colors I know of, but no matter what I do I can't produce a new color percept in my mind. Non-representable "objects" are similar. I can represent the idea of them, and I can represent what they must not be, but I can't represent the thing itself. You seem to argue that this is still a form of representation, but I would argue that the object being represented is not the non-representable object itself, but rather the entire class of representable objects with a symbolic negation.

    Frankly, though, I'm not convinced that's at all relevant to your argument. If I'm totally off-base, feel free to correct me. Although please do restate your argument in that case, because whether or not I can actually counter it, I'd love to understand it.

    And yes, I know this is not satisfying. But philosophy is like science: if the truth is unsatisfying, then it is my job to disappoint.
    Actually, I would argue that your side of the argument posits far more satisfying answers than mine. But I agree that satisfaction isn't really the point.

    GrammarsaladBelgarathMTH
  • WebShamanWebShaman Member Posts: 487
    Jarrakul said:

    @Jarrakul You say "[...] we don't perceive the world as it really is." But what is the world, really? How do you define it? [/metaphysical cliché]

    "What color is this?" for example, is not a question that can be concretely answered, because color is a purely subjective experience rather than a property of anything outside our heads.
    This is inaccurate. Color is defined as a certain frequency of light. This does not alter depending on perception.

    I think, instead, what you may be referring to is how one perceives color, as related to another. For example, I may insist that a particular color is "blue", and another may insist that it is instead "red". For both, depending on how they perceive it, can both definitions be true (due to limits on human perception).

    But from a scientific view, color is a defined value that is true (re: a certain frequency - wavelength - of light).

    I now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.

    BelgarathMTH
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    @WebShaman Physically, color is a spectral property of electromagnetic radiation (not A frequency, but a spectrum). You can also define it in other ways, both physiologically (how the information is captured and processed in the body) and psychologically (how it is interpreted by the mind), etc.

    BelgarathMTHGrammarsalad
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