Debate 0: Appearance vs. Reality

Debate 0: Appearance vs. Reality


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Avatar Wax
Posted Nov 4, 2002 - 6:27 AM:

Administrator's note and introduction of the debate:

Back in November of 2002, we had a forum debate for which the topic "Appearance vs. Reality" was selected. This was not a yes/no debate like the current ones, nor a one on one debate. Four of us participated: Wax, Fire drill, myself and turnstile. The debate was intended to consist of 3 rounds. Each debater would post their own thread with their position in round 1, then we'd challenge each other's positions in round 2, then a rebuttal of the challenges against us for round 3. This debate failed because no one made it past round 2 except turnstile, who did it in an odd sort of way sending me the responses by email as I recall.

This thread will look a little odd, because I've merged the separate threads of the old debate into this one thread to try to meet the format which the new debates have been using. So if it becomes a little difficult to read, I apologize.

Anyhow, to fill space on the new debates forum I'm resurrecting this. There was also commentary, which you can find at and continue the discussion there.

So now, on with Wax's round 1 post on how appearance and reality relate to each other.

- Paul


Morpheus, The Matrix
What is real? How do you define real? If you're talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. This is the world that you know.


All we know of reality is through electrical signals sent from our sensory organs to our brain, then interpreted. Most people accept these interpretations to be an accurate depiction of reality, but sometimes our brain interprets things incorrectly. We often find that an entity appears to be something, but upon further investigation shows it to be something else. Why then, has our brain come to a false conclusion about what an entity really is? First we need to look at two things; How does our brain come to conclusions about what we see, and what is it misinterpreting? This essay will show that while we sense reality accurately but we don’t always have the knowledge to interpret it correctly.

Touch, taste, smell, look and sound. These are our five (known) senses. Their function is to collect evidence of the world around us. The evidence is then sent to our brain for interpretation. This interpretation is then presented and assessed. We make decisions for courses of action based on the assessment. This process most likely arose in order to assess what may be dangerous and what isn’t. All though the initial purpose isn’t as important, and so used less, we still have the “trust the first instinct” impulse.

The “first instinct” gives rise to errors in perception. Often we have very little evidence to assess so the conclusion is distorted by prior experience and conditioning. Our “first instinct” is the basis of all other assumptions about an entity, until it is proven to be false.

This shows that the initial conclusion reached from the appearance of an entity can be either true or false. If the conclusion is false it is due to ignorance of all the entity’s properties rather than it actually being something else.

The appearance of the entity can also influence our conclusions. What happens when it hides evidence or displays false evidence? What if the entity is something that you have never sensed before? Both these instances will lead you to a false conclusion based on the initial appearance of the entity.

When an entity hides evidence it may be just part of its nature. People, for example, will withhold information about themselves to present a more flattering appearance. It can be the nature of the entity to incite further investigation, as with a sculpture or a toy. It may also be that we aren’t seeing all the evidence and we need to look harder.

The way we make conclusions about a new entity is prone to error. We rely on past experience to decide the nature of it. Where our experience is limited we may need to combine multiple ideas and this requires multiple assumptions. Each assumption increases the chance of error. So how do we make conclusions about a new entity?

It would be nice to say that we will withhold judgement until we have gathered evidence with more weight, but it would also be nice if I was dating Angeline Jolie and that’s not going to happen. What we can try to do is prepare to change our impression with each new piece of evidence, to re-assess the entity from scratch with the things we know reducing the amount of assumptions to a small a number as possible.

With the brain’s interpretations and the nature of the entity both giving rise to error can we really get past the appearance to the reality of the entity? This depends on the complexity of the entity. The more complex the more evidence there is and the longer and harder it takes to collect and assess. Without some prior knowledge we may never know the true nature of the entity at all. This does not mean that we can not know what the entity really is. How many people actually know the workings of their computer? We still know that it is a computer because it performs the intended purpose of a computer. If it has other functions that we are unaware of, they are irrelevant, we know that it appears to be a computer and all the evidence, i.e. it functions as a computer, points towards it being this, then it is.

The brain collects evidence and makes a conclusion about an entity. The more evidence that the entity reveals, on its own accord or further investigation, the closer we come to an accurate conclusion to the reality of the entity. If the entity looks like and performs as what you have concluded without variation, then it is that something. If it looks like a chicken, sounds like a chicken and is pecking at your shoe laces, then it is fair to say that it is a chicken.
Fire drill

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Posted Nov 7, 2002 - 10:11 PM:

Administrator's note: This is Fire drill's round 1 post. Note that he had not yet read Wax's post, so he is only stating his position on the topic of appearance vs. reality, not replying in any way.
- Paul

Reality is like a black box with an input entrance and an output exit. You know what goes in and what goes out. You can test this box every way you want; if you do enough tests, you can even predict the output, given the input. This way, controlling the inputs, you can control the outputs. In short, you can have knowledge of box's inputs/outputs, can predict and control them. But you'll never know, not even hope that you'll ever have a truly knowledge of what's inside the black box, what this box REALLY is. The black box is a trivial metaphor of Kant's "the thing in itself&".

From this example one can conclude that the thing observed is defined in fact by an interaction between the observer (subject) and the observed (object). The object (black box) has no sense without the IN/OUT wires, it is nonexistent.

There are two texts I want to discuss, both being in my personal favorites top.
First is Plato's cave allegory. It is one of the most famous philosophical texts, so I'll not insist on it. As a personal remark, it resemble Matrix's kind of approach on reality/appearance topic.

The second text is the story "Reason";, from the Isaac Asimov's "I, robot";. For those who doesn't read it, it's about two astronauts, Donovan and Powell, and an android, QT-1 nicknamed Cutie. The problem was that Cutie, who was built by the two in order to replace man in space working, was from the start a hardcore rationalist, a robotic Descartes. His personal philosophy was to believe only in his own rationality, on the premise that having a much more superior intelligence, physical force compared to humans, they couldn't built him since an inferior being is not capable to construct a superior one. So Cutie started to create his own mythology, with a personal Master, a genesis, etc. No matter how hard the two men tried to convince Cutie about the real world, giving him all kinds of evidences, the robot could found counterarguments all the time. The crisis sprang when Cutie took over the whole station, not allowing the men to get near the controls, all this in a critical moment when was required someone skilled to run the station's controls in order to save the Earth from a disaster. Surprisingly, the robot managed the situation very well, but under totally different reasons.

"Mike, Mike!" He was shaking the other madly. "He held It steady!"
Donovan came to life. "What? Wh-where-" And he, too, gazed with bulging eyes upon the record before him.
Cutie broke in. "What is wrong?"
"You kept it in focus," stuttered Powell. "Did you know that?"
"Focus? What's that?"
"You kept the beam directed sharply at the receiving station - to within a ten-thousandth of a milli-second of arc."
"What receiving station?"
"On Earth. The receiving station on Earth," babbled Powell. "You kept it in focus."
Cutie turned on his heel in annoyance. "It is impossible to perform any act of kindness toward you two. Always the same phantasm! I merely kept all dials at equilibrium in accordance with the will of the Master."

The first example states that beyond "the shadows", the appearances of this world there is a transcendental, unchangeable, ABSOLUTE reality but eventually someone could get knowledge about it (Neo swallowing the red pill). It is the hope that eventually we'll find out what the black box containes. The problem with this hypothesis is that nothing, nobody could guarantee that this newly discovered world is actually the REAL one. Perhaps it is just another dream, in a dream, in a dream ...(or nightmare).

In Asimov's story Cutie created a logical consistent world, keeping all station's parameters right, even if he has totally different interpretations about his own actions. That was another version of reality, seen trough a robot's eyes. Reality is RELATIVE this time. Since reality has a meaning only if is related to an observer, it is obvious, due to the number and quality of observers, that there are multiple realities. I don't say that in the absence of observers there's no reality. I just think that is a nonsense to talk about reality/appearance in the absence of any observers.

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Avatar Paul
Posted Nov 8, 2002 - 8:01 PM:

Administrator's note: This was my own opening statement. Note that I had not yet read Wax's or Fire drill's positions, this is not in any way a reply to either of them. I was simply addressing the topic of the debate: appearance vs. reality.
- Paul

"We cannot say that the rainbow, as a part of the world, was meant to convey the vivid effects of colour; but we can perhaps say that the human mind as part of the world was meant to perceive it that way." - Sir Arthur Eddington, Nature of the Physical World

There is a relationship between appearances and reality, of which a critical feature is that appearances are necessary for us to make any attempt at getting at the reality of things external to the self. Some appearances, such as dreams and hallucinations and optical illusions, we dismiss as "mere appearances." Others, such as those produced by general perception under normal conditions, we categorize as "appearances of reality." Exactly what this "of reality" is meant to add, we shall explore.

In the philosophically significant sense, an appearance need not mean something visual -- a sound appears to the mind, as can a taste or smell or tactile feeling. All these are of a very different experiential nature (it would be strange to claim that a particular taste resembles a particular sound), yet we correlate these different textures of appearance into unified objects. Rather than giving each a separate reality (for example: visualbread, olfactorybread, tastebread, tactilebread), we combine them with appearances from the other senses to create a single reality. Clearly, then, it's neither the texture of the appearance itself nor the correspondence of the texture to some sort of external absolute which makes the appearance real -- what we call the reality is something that contains many very different possible appearances.

Appearances are descriptive of the world, but keeping the multiplicity of possible descriptions in mind we should not make the mistake of saying an appearance can itself ever be a reality. An appearance can contain a relative description of reality without being a reality itself. The appearance of a tree never contains the entire tree, because I can only see one part of it at a time -- nor can it contain the way the side of the tree I'm looking at would look from a slightly different angle, nor how it would look if I were color blind, nor how the tree would be if I had a different sort of sensory organ which I don't have.

If appearances could themselves be realities, we wouldn't have the ability to differentiate the critical and non-critical features of objects. Suppose it were discovered that although hydrogen has all the same relations to the rest of the world that we've thought, hydrogen is actually soft, fuzzy, and purple. Would we rip up the periodic table and declare that all previous talk of hydrogen was mistaken? No, we wouldn't really care -- it's still hydrogen in virtue of how it interacts with the other elements, regardless of how it may take on a different appearance than we'd thought. It's not how something appears to us that gives it the status of being real, it's the relationship both within a larger appearance (small object related to the full field of vision) and especially across different sorts of appearances (object as in sight related to object as in sound) that creates the reality. The relational aspects of the appearances are what's critical. For example, suppose there are three beeping objects in a triangular formation. A blindfolded person should be able to report that the sounds are arranged in the form of a triangle, and another person can report that the visual sensations of the objects are also arranged in the form of a triangle. It's an inspection of various appearances for common relationships between aspects of the appearances that generates our ideas of what's real about an object.

The actuality of reality is something we have no contact with (except debatably in the case of one's own mind) -- we have descriptions of real objects instead of the real objects themselves. The reality of an object can be known to us only in the sense of how it relates/interacts with the world, not how it is in itself . We know the various relative descriptions and we note the commonalties of the structure of their relationships to the world, and we craft from that a sense of what sort of nature any future descriptions would need in order to be said to be of that same real object. This is the process by which we create the idea of reality. The descriptions will never give us the actuality (only a complex set of relative descriptions) because the actuality of what it's like to be something is not to be found in how it interacts with signal-carriers like photons, sound waves, et cetera.

All we ask of descriptions is that they consistently give us the nature of our relation to things and the relation of our perceptions to each other. The essential data we boil appearances down to must be judged for consistency and effectiveness... this is not to ensure that it captures the essence of what exists outside of us, for we have no use of that, what we want to ensure is that we're getting an accurate description of the relations. Once we have an accurate picture of the relations, we know the interactive features of the object which matter for our experiences in the world. What it is that the relations are actually describing, we really don't need to know.

What we mean when we call an appearance "an appearance of reality" is that it fits into our scheme in a way that allows us to effectively interact. For a normally functioning human being, the world of appearances is usually descriptive of a reality. Evolutionary processes give us the flavor of the appearances according to what it is the mind needs to notice. Where we find sharp contrasts and highlights, our biological history has caused us to make these specific distinctions for survival reasons, instead of the infinity of other possible schemes of distinction and representation which our relative descriptions of objects might have used. As Eddington described in the opening quote, the external world isn't what we directly encounter, and yet our nature as a part of the world and our evolutionary history determine the nature of our relative appearances. The appearance of the rainbow is not the reality of the rainbow, but it's the reality of how the actual rainbow is described by our sensory equipment and our minds. Appearances, while not reality, describe reality.

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Posted Nov 12, 2002 - 2:18 AM:

Administrator's note: This was turnstile's opening statement. Note that he had not yet read any of the other positions, this is not in any way a reply. He was simply addressing the topic of the debate: appearance vs. reality.
- Paul

I contend that "reality" is understood by our reason, and to clarify my position I will use Descartes' famous example of the melting wax. But before the said example is given I would like to first give a quick account of reason or the "thinking substance."

First, Descartes tries to give content to his conception of a purely thinking substance by reminding us of what “thinking” covers- namely, all conscious states. These include doubting, understanding, asserting, denying, willing, refusing, imagining, and seeming to perceive. As Descartes puts it, ingeniously listing the very thoughts he had been reporting in the Meditations (or the mental abilities he had to use to get him from there to here):

“This is a considerable list, if everything on it belongs to me. But does it? Is it not one and the same “I” who is now doubting almost everything, who nonetheless understands some things, who affirms that this one thing is true, denies everything else, desires to know more, is unwilling to be deceived, imagines many things even involuntary, and is aware of many things which apparently come from the senses?”

Second, Descartes tries to show us that the conception of a physical object, though it initially seems easier to grasp than the conception of a pure mind, is, in fact, just as abstract (and this is the key to the immediate certainty). This is one of the purposes of the passage about the wax. This can be seen by attending to the way Descartes introduces the passage:

“From all this I am beginning to have a rather better understanding of what I am. But it still appears- and I cannot stop thinking this- that the corporeal things of which images are formed in my thought [by imagination at this point in the Meditation], and which the sense investigate, are known much more distinctness than this puzzling “I” which cannot be pictured in the imagination. And yet it is surprising that I should have a more distinct grasp of things that which I realize are doubtful, unknown and foreign to me, than I have of that which is true and known- my own self. But I see what it is: my mind enjoys wandering off and will not yet submit to being restrained within the bounds of truth. Very well then; just this once let us give it a completely free rein, so that after a while, when it is time to tighten the reins, it may more easily submit to being curbed.”

“Let us consider the things which people commonly think they understand most distinctly of all; that is, the bodies which we touch and see. I do not mean bodies in general- for general perceptions are apt to be somewhat more confused- but one particular body. Let us take, for example, this piece of wax.”

Having carefully prepared us for a comparison of his novel conception of the self (which can be neither perceived by the senses nor pictured by imagination) with the seemingly easier conception of an ordinary physical object (which can be examined by the senses and pictured by imagination), Descartes asks, “So what was it in the wax that I understood with such distinctness?” This question concerns our conception of the wax; it can be paraphrased, What constitutes our conception of a body- for example, this piece of wax? Descartes arrives at his answer by a process of elimination. First eliminated are the wax’s observable properties- its shape, size, texture, color, smell, and so on. These do not constitute our conception of the wax, because even if they all change, the wax remains. So our conception must be an abstract one: “Let us concentrate, take away everything which does not belong to the wax, and see what is left: merely something extended, flexible, and changeable.” What Descartes says next makes the conception even more abstract. He asks, since we conceive the wax as something “flexible” and “changeable,” is not our conception of the wax composed of the specific sizes and shapes that we can imagine the wax taking on? No, he answers; for we conceive that the wax can take on infinitely many different shapes and sizes, but we can only imagine (i.e. picture or visualize) a finite number of these. At last, Descartes turns his attention to “extended”:

“And what is meant by “extended?” Is the extension of the wax also unknown? For it increases if the wax melts, increases again if it boils, and is greater still if the heat is increased. I would not be making a correct judgement about the nature of wax unless I believed it capable of being extended in many more different ways that I will ever encompass in my imagination.”

In this important excerpt, we may interpret Descartes as saying that to conceive the wax as something extended is to conceive it as something that can take on a great many shapes and sizes (something three-dimensional). Our conception of the wax, then, is merely the conception of something that can take on various (three-dimensional) shapes and sizes. Descartes adds that we have this conception neither by the senses nor by imagination but only by reason. Moreover, it is now a “clear and distinct” conception, unlike the imperfect and confused one he began with; for, unlike a conception involving the specific shapes and sizes pictured by imagination, his conception now contains all that- and only that- the wax must have to remain the same wax. It is a purified conception, arrived at by a careful process of reasoning.

Finally, notice how Descartes has fulfilled his purpose of showing that our conception of a body is as abstract as his conception of a mind. The purified, “clear and distinct” conception of a body is the conception of something that can take on various shapes and sizes. But what is the conception of a purely thinking substance but the conception of something that can take on various thoughts (cogitiationes)- doubts, desires, beliefs, sensations, and so on? Moreover, neither conception comes from the senses or imagination; both are purely intellectual. The upshot is that Descartes’ radically novel conception of the self as a purely thinking substance is no more abstract or difficult than the true conception of a material body.

Administrator's interjecetion: Here's where it gets confusing. The rest of this post is rounds 2 and 3 of the debate, which for some reason turnstile didn't want to post on the forum but emailed instead. Try to bear with the format
- Paul

Objections posted by Paul:
Descartes' major problem is that he's what Kant calls an empirical idealist. Descartes' mistaken transcendental realism creates his mistaken empirical idealism:
The transcendental idealist is, therefore, an empirical realist, and allows to matter, as appearance, a reality which does not permit of being inferred, but is immediately perceived. Transcendental realism, on the other hand, inevitably falls into difficulties, and finds itself obliged to give way to empirical idealism, in that it regards the objects of outer sense as something distinct from the senses themselves, treating mere appearances as self-subsistent beings, existing outside us. On such a view as this, however clearly we may be conscious of our representation of these things, it is still far from certain that, if the representation exists, there exists also the object corresponding to it. In our system, on the other hand, these external things, namely matter, are in all their configurations and alterations nothing but mere appearances, that is, representations in us, of the reality of which we are immediately conscious. Since, so far as I know, all psychologists who adopt empirical idealism are transcendental realists, they have certainly proceeded quite consistently in ascribing great importance to empirical idealism, as one of the problems in regard to which the human mind is quite at a loss how to proceed. For if we regard outer appearances as representations produced in us by their objects, and if these objects be things existing in themselves outside us, it is indeed impossible to see how we can come to know the existence of the objects otherwise than by inference from the effect to the cause; and this being so, it must always remain doubtful whether the cause in question be in us or outside us. We can indeed admit that something, which may be (in the transcendental sense) outside us, is the cause of our outer intuitions, but this is not the object of which we are thinking in the representations of matter and of corporeal things; for these are merely appearances, that is, mere kinds of representation, which are never to be met with save in us, and the reality of which depends on immediate consciousness, just as does the consciousness of my own thoughts. The transcendental object is equally unknown in respect to inner and to outer intuition. But it is not of this that we are here speaking, but of the empirical object, which is called an external object if it is represented in space, and an inner object if it is represented only in its time-relations."
- Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

The rationalism of Descartes is problematic as well. Says Turnstile: "Our conception of the wax, then, is merely the conception of something that can take on various (three-dimensional) shapes and sizes. Descartes adds that we have this conception neither by the senses nor by imagination but only by reason." Calling this "reason" is quite problematic. Reason is a process of thought, and anyone who claims that we have to think about it in order to turn something into a three dimensional object is clearly mistaken. Dimensionality is simply a part of the perceptual process, a form through which perceptions are filtered before reaching the conscious mind. We cannot help but see things as three dimensional -- this is not something reason does, it's something forced onto us since we have no other way of intuiting the object. I cannot visualize the wax in four dimensions, nor in two. It is in fact reasoning that strips this from objects, rather than adding it -- it's the process of reason which lets us realize that appearances of wax in 3-D extendedness and smell or taste of wax are of the same wax, thus dismissing that extendedness as not essential to the object. Turnstile goes on to argue, "Moreover, it is now a "clear and distinct" conception, unlike the imperfect and confused one he began with; for, unlike a conception involving the specific shapes and sizes pictured by imagination, his conception now contains all that- and only that- the wax must have to remain the same wax. It is a purified conception, arrived at by a careful process of reasoning." There is nothing about this which implies at all that the wax must therefore really be the way we sense this extendedness, there is no use to calling anything about this clear and distinct.

Reply to above objections:

Paul: Calling this "reason" is quite problematic. Reason is a process of thought, and anyone who claims that we have to think about it in order to turn something into a three dimensional object is clearly mistaken.

But here Paul I did not claim that we impose three-dimensionality; but that we understand the object (the wax) as a three-dimensional object that can take on many forms. Here imposing and understanding are two different things. Mathematicians have the capability of understanding four, five, six, and n dimensions; however, when it comes to investigating the world we must experiment on which mathematical system (or deductive understanding) is applicable. So we can understand a four dimensional space, we cannot impose it on the world.

this is not something reason does, it's something forced onto us since we have no other way of intuiting the object.

Here I would agree; except that I would add that it is reason that understands as and does not impose as. However, we could understand space with more then three dimensions; we could just not apply it to the world (or at least most of it).

There is nothing about this which implies at all that the wax must therefore really be the way we sense this extendedness, there is no use to calling anything about this clear and distinct.

Here, when we speak of clear and distinct ideas the philosophy becomes complex. But I can paint a quick (although vague) picture of what is meant by clear and distinct ideas. The minimum requirement for an idea to be clear is that which whichever content be taken as basic, and this is called the simple natures by the 17th century Rationalists (but it is called mental operations by 20th century Cartesians like Edmund Husserl), and it these simple natures that constitute the objects essence. Thus the equality between the square of the base and the square of the other two sides of a triangle “is not clearly understood unless in a right triangle” (to use one of Descartes’ favorite examples), i.e. the idea which is interpreted to be representative of that equality is not clear unless what is essential to such a proportion, its inherence in a right triangle, be included in the idea’s direct content. Similarly, the minimum requirement for an idea to be distinct is that nothing contradictory to the essence of its object be included in it. Thus a right triangle “cannot be distinctly understood if the proportion of equality between the squares of its sides and of its base be denied; for then the contradictory of that proportion, an essential property of the triangle, would be contained in the idea of the triangle.”

When discussing “clear and distinct ideas” and consciousness I would here adopt more of the 20th century Cartesianism- phenomenology (as that developed by Brentino, Husserl, Ponty, and others).
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Posted Nov 15, 2002 - 7:14 PM:

Administrator's note: This was my reply to Wax's post -- round 2 of the debate. Note that by the rules of the debate it was to address Wax only in this particular post, none of the others.
- Paul

Wax makes the bold claim that "we sense reality accurately," but seems to have no clear justification. If we sense reality accurately, that implies we're getting access to things as they actually are in themselves, and our minds are not altering/interpreting the things into anything non-accurate. What justification there might be for supposing that the mind is capable of taking in a perception and subjecting it to understanding without altering the form of it into a nature entirely unlike the external reality (and entirely like the internal structure of the mind/brain), is never explored... proponents of direct realism seem to simply attempt not to think about the process of perception. Wax claims that error arises when we rush to judgment by trusting "first instinct"... this seems to rest on the assumption that appearances are at least usually realities, and it's by misinterpreting the appearances (according to first instinct) that we lose the reality. Wax has this backward -- the true situation is that appearances are not realities, but our judgment extracts a representation out of sets of appearances that we can then call a description of the real world. It seems Wax has committed the mistake of identifying appearances as being realities, and he in fact implies that appearances may be infallible realities -- it's just our judgment of them, he says, which sometimes errors. As my thread here demonstrates, appearances cannot in fact be accurately labeled as realities.
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Posted Nov 15, 2002 - 7:27 PM:

Administrator's note: This was my reply to Fire drill's "relative reality" post -- round 2 of the debate. Note that by the rules of the debate it was to address Fire drill only in this particular post, none of the others.
- Paul

While I agree with Fire drill that the nature of appearances is relative and depends on the subject / object distinction (the varying natures of the subject and of the subject's relationship to the object being responsible for the infinite possible descriptions), there are some points on the nature of reality where I differ with him. Fire drill is right to question the allegory of the cave, but does so for the wrong reasons. He says that it's impossible to know which world is real -- true enough, reason derives the description of reality out of the multiplicity of appearances and so it may be impossible for a skeptic to be certain of if they're getting a proper description of reality if they're getting consistent hallucinations, but that's an unimportant global-skeptic point which we have little reason to think applies to real life. What Fire drill seems to not notice is that viewing reality as it is in itself is simply a logical contradiction. It is in fact impossible to ever be in a transcendent state the way Fire drill seems to be taking as possible (and as Plato would take as possible)... we cannot have any pill to reveal things in themselves to us, because by their very nature things in themselves are non-interpreted. Once it's understood by the mind it's an empirical object, a.k.a. a description of reality, instead of an actual transcendent object. Kant's major point is that knowing a thing in itself is logically contradictory due to the nature of the concept, and the necessary fact is that for something to be understood by a person it must be conformed to the patterns of human thought -- the patterns which create the empirical world.

Another problematic point for Fire drill is his insistence that the "real" world is multiple worlds. One of Kant's major points was that there is a just on reality, and the relativity of the empirical world is a result of that one reality interacting with the mind. Note this claim made by Fire drill: "Since reality has a meaning only if is related to an observer, it is obvious, due to the number and quality of observers, that there are multiple realities." Fire drill clearly fails to see a major point here. He believes that each empirical world is a reality, while as I've explained in my initial argument no appearance can be itself a reality, it can only be a relative description. The relativity of appearances in no way suggests multiple realities, it only suggests multiple appearances of reality -- multiple relative descriptions of a single reality. Reality is that which generates (in combination with minds) the numerous relative empirical worlds.
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