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It occurred to me after seeing this headline:

the-internet-explained-by-prisoners-who-have-never-seen-it

to ask if I myself have ever seen it.

Given that I never smelled, touched, tasted or heard it either, then would some anti realists say it didn't exist?

What question does my question fall under, and what would be -ve "the internet doesn't exist" answer tell us, if anything?

closed as unclear what you're asking by stoicfury Feb 15 '15 at 0:45

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  • Are you able to provide a link to the article? It may be useful as a part of the discussion. – Jordan Feb 12 '15 at 1:12
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    Your computer is part of the Internet. What do you mean by saying you never touched the Internet? – Keelan Feb 12 '15 at 10:23
  • Internet is the "virtual protocol". It just work on the basis of Network programming concept to make communication from anywhere to anywhere. All the browsers, web pages are just the broker object to make the human to believe that they are really having the interaction with the Global internet. It is mere a postal service, you send the particulars to your concerns, you also receive the very important else somewhat advertiser element from the start point. The authentication indicator does not means that the appearance of the object. More or less it is as same as the soul and the body. – Jeya suriya Feb 13 '15 at 10:53
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    Posting a comment on internet-site, asking if it exists.. If you really still doubt internet exists - go deeper and doubt the existance of the world, or yourself. Why stop ? – c69 Feb 13 '15 at 22:56
  • Your title question "Does the internet exist?" is too broad to be reasonably answered here. The question in the body of your post, "Would ... anti-realists say [the internet] exists?" is acceptable in scope, but you don't provide us any context or definitions so it remains unanswerable. 1st, define "the internet". You seem to have defined existence as something you can "smell, touch, taste, or hear" but are you sure that definition is satisfactory? Reality, conceptual existence, these are complicated issues that can easily become more confusing if you don't stop to establish a starting point. – stoicfury Feb 15 '15 at 0:52
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Yes, the Internet exists.

No, it does not exist in the form to which most people are accustom to thinking about it.

The physical representations of the internet people tend to think about (webpages, e-mails, videos) are all illusion and simulation. Images on a screen, generated based electrical state of transistors in your computer, which is based on the electrical state of the transistors in some other computer halfway around the world.

And that's what the Internet physically is: a bunch of electrical/magnetic/optical signals residing on storage media, within active memory, or in transit. So, this seemingly random batch electrical charges physically residing within YouTube's servers gets passed through a series of hardware and software interpreters which tells your computer screen to display a man singing about never giving up.

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The anti-realist arguments you mention work well in tight knit philosophies. They fare very poorly when you try to combine them with realist style thinking.

For example, when America dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, no Japanese person had ever smelled, touched, tasted, or heard the nuclear bomb. I'm sure they would have been comforted by the philosophy.

There are three approaches to rectifying this that I can think of:

  • Take a complete anti-realist position, and start to come up with theories as to why a belief that the internet exists might be valuable, whether the internet exists or not.
  • Use a different trait than "existence" to give meaning to the idea of the internet.
  • Use an extended definition of "observe" which includes observing the tool you use to observe the internet. Start with making sure your computer is real (and plugged in), then go from there.

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