Can things we don't think are real exist?

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tai

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Does it exist, is it real. Nope this isn't a alien question.
in some form or another we've all had this question rapped around are brains. do the things we think or dream about really exist or can it simply be real.i've always been curious about how other people thought about this.
 

tiny

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In philosophy, the idea that only the physical world is real is called materialism (or physicalism). The opposite is idealism, the idea that reality is a mental construction: ideas are real and the physical world an illusion. Most modern philosophers tend to be materialists.

The knack of philosophy is often in pinning down very precisely (and unambiguously) what words mean. So...when you as whether the objects of your dreams exist, you would probably do well to define what you mean by "exist". Does an idea "exist" or do only objects "exist". It all depends on your definitions.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Materialism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idealism

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There's a great sample on the track "O.O.B.E." by The Orb of a lecturer discussing one of Karl Popper's works:

Man's achievement is to have created a world of the mind, of the intellect and imagination, which is as real in its way as any actual country on the map. Sir Karl Popper, in one of his most important papers, calls it "the third world," or World Three. The first world is the objective world of things. The second world is my inner subjective world. But, says Popper, there is a third world, the world of objective contents of thoughts... Teilhard de Chardin called this "third world" the noösphere -- the world of mind.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Popper
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Teilhard_de_Chardin

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But, even if you were to suppose that the objects of your dreams exist... Surely it's clear that they exist in a different kind of way to physical objects (despite the quote above suggesting that they might be as "real" as a country)? We are familiar with the concept of object persistence (physical objects do not spontaneously disappear just because we can't see them -- as children are quick to learn when playing peek-a-boo). But, there's no reason to think that the objects of our dreams persist when we are not dreaming them.

Eeek! I'm late! Gotta go! :)
 

ozbub

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Cool thread. Of course these exist... They may have no physical property but we can still have a sensory experience of them, as if they did. Even those that we may not acknowledge as real exist by their presumed absence. In other words to consider them not real, you must have first considered them... as such they have an existence. Hahaha well you asked. This stuff is cool and can also do your head in. Is my Teddy real?
 
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Ooh, my philosphy classes in 10th grade all over again. Back then, we learned that one of the theses that stated God existed was defended by the author's belief that we can't make things up. If we think of a divine entity, if we have it in our heads, it exists. Otherwise we wouldn't be thinking of it. So I guess if you have something in your head, it's not really here, but it exists.
 

dogboy

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I think of it, therefore it is. I think that I do not exist, therefore i.....uh.......(poof)
 

ZeroCG86

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By pure theory, it is plausible that they exist. Regardless of belief, without omniscience, it is impossible to definitively prove that something does not exist. Science evolves, technology evolves, and the tools used for proving or disproving an idea evolve. So only at the apex of scientific and technological evolution, at the absolute pinnacle of knowledge and understanding, only then can anything be definitively proven.

That's my take on it, at least.
 

LotusFlower

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the answer to your question is that the cat is both dead and alive at the same time.

Shrodinger's cat. Sheldon Cooper per chance? :).

Perhaps you're all simply the different quantum possibility's of myself? Perhaps, the opposite? Perhaps it's your awareness of me that set's me in this form, until then, I am no one and everyone all at the same time? Gotta love quantum physics! Joking aside though, scientists are making some pretty amazing advances in the field. It's not something that can be completely disregarded as fantasy anymore.

But if quantum physics give's you a headache. Why not try this one out:

Simulations back up theory that Universe is a hologram : Nature News & Comment

Enjoy :)

- Lotus Flower
 

NabePup

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As a simple answer, I'll say "yes".

The way I see it, there's things we can think, there's things we think we know and then there are things we know (which is really the same as things we think we know, except the majority of humanity acknowledges its existence or can be made to acknowledge its existence). Something can exist as an idea or concept in addition to existing physically

For instance, if I ask does Canterlot (from MLP), Hogwarts (from Harry Potter) or the Tardis and Sonic Screw Driver (from Doctor Who) exist, chances are you'd say (agreeably so) "no". But if I ask does MLP or Harry Potter (the series), Doctor Who (the series) exist you'd probably say "yes". However one thing all these have in common, they are all perceived by you yourself (assuming you know the references I'm making) and even our physical world is all perceived in our minds just the same as these concepts are perceived, they're just perceived in a different way.

Also as Zero pointed out above, with the way we have evolved (specifically our ability to spread and share ideas) things can exist in ways that weren't even possible (or perceivable before).

Another little tidbit to add to this rambling before tying it off:

Scenario 1: imagine you stub your toe or finger. You'd say your toe or finger probably hurts and the resulting pain is all to real.

Scenario 2: Now imagine your toe or finger has been severed from you entirely and frozen for 20 years so that where it was severed from has fully healed and your severed appendage hasn't decayed or anything like that. If you took your severed appendage and stub it the same way you stubbed it in the first scenario (literally you pick it up and slam it into the ground or a wall) and someone asks if your toe or finger hurts, you'd say no.

Pain only exists as a perception in our mind but I think we'd all agree is real.
 
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ilostthesheriff

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Surely.

I don't think magazines are real. Magazines still exist? Yes? There, we're done. Next question.

Haha! As a scientist are you stating that you don't have an issue or two of Scientific American laying around? No Discover Science for the Curious laying around either?

This is particularly funny to me as I have an affinity for magazines and fear their demise. I enjoy the crinkly pages and being able to cut out a favorite article or picture and store it for later reference. Archaic but nostalgic.
 

AEsahaettr

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Haha! As a scientist are you stating that you don't have an issue or two of Scientific American laying around? No Discover Science for the Curious laying around either?

Just that this question can be defeated with a 10 second thought experiment. Lots of things sound profound whether or not they actually are. Sometimes a pool of water that's very shallow looks deep because the water's muddy and everyone would rather debate about how deep it is rather than stick a finger in it.

This is particularly funny to me as I have an affinity for magazines and fear their demise. I enjoy the crinkly pages and being able to cut out a favorite article or picture and store it for later reference. Archaic but nostalgic.

You know, I do like the thought of getting all my books and magazines electronically. Especially when I move. But it's not nearly as convenient to search electronic magazines (even though you'd think the opposite) and it's so much easier to thumb through paper than electrons.
 

ilostthesheriff

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Just that this question can be defeated with a 10 second thought experiment. Lots of things sound profound whether or not they actually are. Sometimes a pool of water that's very shallow looks deep because the water's muddy and everyone would rather debate about how deep it is rather than stick a finger in it.

You mean like this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCyeXCIKQJc

Sorry couldn't resist.
 
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