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Object permanence is the belief objects exist whether we see them or not.

However even if they exist, can we really claim they exist as an object that has certain colors, and thus claim they exist in the exact way we see them when we do look at them?

Color is a visual phenomena, you can't call something a color if it is not something you see, the existence as a color is literally dependent on the perception of it through sight, therefore we could say it doesn't exist but we can feel and see the effects of something when we reach out for it, or say that there are conscious creatures or creatures who have the ability to see it that we haven't seen.

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    Is there a significant difference between this question and If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one to hear it, does it make a sound?? Aug 21, 2023 at 2:49
  • Is "to look at them" real relevant? Do you think that the money on your bank account "really" exists? Have you ever "looked at" it? Does it exist during night, when you are dreaming and the bank is closed? But in a deeper sense it does not: there is no big storage in the bank with ALL the money of the people. Aug 21, 2023 at 9:59
  • Yes and no depending on how you "look at it". The self is a persistent object that we can decompose into and reduce to items that we map to non-self. The Buddha argues that impermanence and not-self are marks of existence. But to decode the meaning of not-self and impermanence the effort evokes my concepts of self and permanence. In one aspect there is object permanence and in another aspect there is object impermanence. Aug 21, 2023 at 22:10
  • When contemplating how to decompose objects, according to the scientific methods of reduction and synthesis, I composed a poem: What it is. What it was. What it becomes. And What it does. Consider a steel beam. What it is - a steel beam. What it was - iron ore. What it becomes - rust. What it does - depends on the application as a structural member in a building, bridge, or machine. Then we decompose iron ore and rust and synthesize stuff from those components. Reality appears to have attributes that are coherent in the mind. Mind arises within a mysterious source of cause: The Great Mystery. Aug 21, 2023 at 22:21

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If you would have the size of an electron, no objects like cars or clouds would exist for you. If you would live a billion times slower, animals would look like sparks for you. If you would have the density of a black hole singularity, objects you swallow with your humongous gravity might appear as sound waves inside your body.

In synthesis, there are no objects as such in nature. When you interact with an object, it is your speed, location, size, hardness, density, chemical composition that determine what objects exist for you. Since you have approximately the same chemical composition, speed, size, density, etc. as me, we can interact with almost the same objects and even talk about objectivity! (our ability to focus on the same apparent features of the object).

In general, you can think of objects as only part of a continuum of fundamental forces. There are no cars or rainbows outside of our heads. We're not even sure that time and space are real.

Immanuel Kant was a philosopher who suggested that the subject defines the object, which is essentially the same idea as above, but Kant focused mainly the rational aspect.

In philosophy, there are quite different perspectives, let's see some:

On the extreme non-existence of objects, there is solipsism (see George Berkeley), which more or less states that nothing exists, that everything is a divine projection of God into our minds.

Kant is on the middle, he speaks of the thing-as-it-appears and the thing-in-itself.

On the other extreme, there are multiple perspectives, but the most remarkable is scientific realism, that is... science (!), which takes objects maximizing objectivity, and minimizing subjectivity to the point that the subject mostly does not exist in science (except as an OBJECT (of study), which is really ironic). I say that scientific pure objectivity implies nullifying the subject. For scientific realism, even without humans, scientific knowledge should hold (which will possibly not for an ethereal living being). Excepting modern sciences like quantum mechanics, few disciplines really address the influence of the subject in interactions (think on this: ALL disciplines of knowledge are about the interaction of the subject with some type of object; geology is about how WE know rocks, dentistry is about how WE address dental issues, psychology is about how we address other subjects (which for the practitioner is always an object, he is the real subject).

Objects exist only while our subjective capabilities (mental and physical) hold. We shouldn't take for granted that other forms of objects or even living beings in the universe exist only within our scales: they don't necessary have the same size, speed, density, composition as us. Perhaps rocks interact physically but not on the fundamental fields we can perceive. Perhaps mountains are intelligent, perhaps there are animal-like entities in dark matter. Perhaps a 2cm martian started going through your body ten minutes ago, and neither you nor him notice the other.

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    One physics nuance: there are distant observables which we expect will eventually vanish from our perception (in millions of years); physics does not predict that they cease to exist, but that they are removed to an inaccessible location beyond the observable universe. This suggests that your answer conflates existence with observability.
    – Corbin
    Aug 21, 2023 at 15:08
  • @Corbin good point. Can you please point me to a physics definition of existence? The one I use is this: an object exists for a subject if the subject can interact with the object. So, in this case, interaction (e.g. observation) is equivalent to existence. This is the quantum mechanics approach, if I'm not wrong.
    – RodolfoAP
    Aug 21, 2023 at 16:28
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    This answer clearly conflates epistemology with metaphysics.
    – Mutoh
    Aug 21, 2023 at 18:17
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    @RodolfoAP the apprehension of something ≠ the existence of something. You're reducing the latter into the former, even though it doesn't follow from the examples in the first paragraph.
    – Mutoh
    Aug 21, 2023 at 19:17
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    @RodolfoAP in your first comment you are taking your opinion as a fact.
    – Mutoh
    Aug 21, 2023 at 20:14
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As an ex-physicist, I am firmly of the view that everyday objects exist, but as you point out, some of the qualities we attribute to them, such as colour and scent, are invented by the mind, while other qualities may be essentially subjective in some way. When you see an object that is red, what you really mean is that it gives off photons that interact with particles in our eyes and brains to generate a sensation we associated with the word red. When you describe an object as hard or soft, what you mean is that it will or will not yield to degrees of pressure that humans can apply. When you imagine an object to have a well-defined physical extent, you are ignoring the fact that at a microscopic level there is no exact boundary between the object and its surroundings. Clearly there is a correlation between how we perceive objects to be and how they are, but our perceptions are just that- perceptions, and should not be confused with the objects as they actually are.

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    "objects exist": not really, this is your opinion. There is a broad list of options from a philosophical perspective. "colour and scent are invented by the mind": AND the body. If you have the blue-type photoreceptors damaged, you can't distinguish blue from yellow (see tritanopia). Color is not a pure mental thing.
    – RodolfoAP
    Aug 21, 2023 at 11:19
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    @RodolfoAP indeed it is my firm opinion that objects exist, which is why I said so. If others wish to promote the nonsensical view that everyday objects do not exist, they are free to do so. Aug 21, 2023 at 12:23
  • In such cases, start your post with "In my opinion...". See: philosophy.meta.stackexchange.com/a/3254/23407 and also philosophy.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/362/…
    – RodolfoAP
    Aug 21, 2023 at 12:57
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    @RodolfoAP many thanks for letting me know, and apologies for my breach of etiquette! I will insert the missing words forthwith. Aug 21, 2023 at 13:37
  • > When you imagine an object to have a well-defined physical extent, you are ignoring the fact that at a microscopic level there is no exact boundary between the object and its surroundings. Isn't it exactly what people mean by "objects don't exist unless someone arbitrarily defines their boundaries"? Aug 22, 2023 at 7:20

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