Thought experiment in radical skepticism, perhaps?

by phil on Friday Oct 29, 2010 1:04 AM

I'm trying to understand our universe. This is my line of inquiry.

There's a screen with an image, and if I ask myself what's on it, it's always different. Every new frame seems to derive from the previous one. On an individual frame I see clumps of like-shiny things (let's use the term "color" to differentiate between like-shiny things.) And these clumps, we'll call them objects. And what I notice is that each frame is connected to the previous frame in some way. Sometimes the objects move close to each other, and then they sharply move apart from each other. It happens so regularly (I've never seen it fail), and so I know that these objects operate by rules or laws.

Maybe there is some randomness between the frames, I can't look closely enough to tell, so I'm not perfectly sure that each frame can be derived precisely from the previous frame.

But I don't even know there's a screen really. All I know is that I have a basket of reactions to shininess-differentiation.

I don't even know if "I" exist. I know there is some reaction to the screen. And I can observe this reaction to the screen in a separate meta-screen that feels like its mine. But if I ask myself, by which screen is that meta-screen being seen, I feel pain and discontinue asking.

What is this notion of time you speak of? What is this notion of matter? Where is consciousness?

I don't know about any of that stuff. All I can say about the observable universe is that it's a stream of incoming data I can poll repeatedly, and that the data in each frame can be categorized into groups (objects), and that the groups in each frame relate to each other by rules. Everything else is, well, beyond my observation.

I was reaching for something like this in a previous post, but I don't think I expressed it right.


daivd said on October 30, 2010 12:16 PM:

This is very well executed.

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