p.s Are our observations of the world inductive, or is it just the conclusions that we draw from them which are inductive?

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    It is not a conclusion of any argument at all... You live in the world from the day of your birth, and every action that you perform every day is so in virtue of the fact that you live in the world. May 3 '17 at 16:01
  • @Mauro ALLEGRANZA: We are not 'enlightened persons'. If the word 'you' has a 'broad meaning' can't the world be in you? [This thought is based on Indian Philosophy] May 4 '17 at 3:36
  • Welcome to philosophy.SE. Is there a sound reason to conclude that the world does not exist? You might enjoy this article, "Perceptual Intentionality"
    – MmmHmm
    May 4 '17 at 5:07
  • @SonOfThought - what's the problem ? If the world is in "me", it exists. May 4 '17 at 6:06
  • @Mauro ALLEGRANZA:No problem. When you know yourself you can say where the world is. Till then you can believe/feel you are in the world. But please read the explanations I gave as an answer. Thanks. May 4 '17 at 7:32

Proving whether 1) we ourselves exist and proving whether 2) an independent world exists are two distinct but related questions.

The most influential answer to the first question is Descartes': cogito ergo sum, or "I think before I am". Various critics, including Nietzsche and Kierkegaard among others, have pointed out that the meaning of "I" here is critical and not clearly addressed. But the experience of doubt necessarily implies the existence of some subjective entity, the doubter.

As for the second question, the existence of a world independent from the thinker essentially amounts to materialism, as opposed to idealism. The fundamental problem with strong forms of idealism is that the many things (our apparent ability to communicate with other people, the regularity of observed physical phenomenon, etc.) are difficult to explain, short of some far-fetched "brain in a vat" scenario.

  • you could devise an experiment. hide an object and have someone find it, they hide it again and have you find it.
    – Richard
    May 3 '17 at 20:14
  • Yes, but the results are unlikely to win an idealist over to materialism.
    – Brian Z
    May 4 '17 at 0:32
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    Every time my son posts my car keys down the back of the radiator and they weren't where I left them, I spend a moment revisiting solipsism.
    – Richard
    May 4 '17 at 0:39
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    @BrianZ: For a good book on how far idealism and materialism (or naive realism) can be philosophically taken and their boundaries, I suggest The Limits of Realism by Tim Buttons.
    – Philip Klöcking
    May 7 '17 at 8:52

To feel whether we or the world exists, I don't think a child born in this world needs to know about inductive logic or deductive logic. It doesn't wish to prove or even to say whether anything exists. It is because of our 'ignorance' we think so. Not they, actually we are ignorant. [They know that it is nonsense to say so using a mortal body :)] So there is no need to prove it. It is like an axiom in almost all persons' case.

To say that something exists there must be a second thing. If the second thing is another form of the first and both of them have no permanent existence in this world, we can't even use the word 'exist'. But we should use it for our daily activities. The Ultimate Truth is beyond existence and nonexistence.

So I can't find the significance of your question from another substratum.


It is becoming alarmingly plausible that the universe is a simulation, or even the projection of a simulation. The universe appears to pop into existence when we look at it, and not before, which would be the logical way to simulate something as vast and complex as the universe. Everything from the macroscopic action of gravity over vast distances, to the nature of quantum reality at the very small scale seems to suggest simulation. There is also some evidence (relating to the expansion of spacetime) that the events of deep time were simulated at a faster pace than current events. In other words we are more important to the simulation than primordial life. Or we take more power to simulate and thus the simulation increasingly lags. If the universe is a simulation it may be possible to communicate with the construct itself (speak to God).

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    This does not really seem to answer the question. What reasoning do you use to prove we or the world exists?
    – user2953
    May 4 '17 at 12:44
  • I think I'm suggesting here that the first question is flawed. Reality exists, and we can prove that by experiment. The second (post-script) question is flawed if the universe is not a simulation because observation without interpretation is useless. However if the universe pops into existence when you observe it then the answer to the post-script question is that it is 'observation' that creates reality.
    – Richard
    May 4 '17 at 12:58
  • There is another possibility that has been written down over 200 years ago: It may just as well be that although we may not be able to think the universe but in a way that suggests implications like purposefulness (or simulation, as it were), the universe itself does not work like this. It is just our way to represent the universe in thought, and necessarily so (Kant, Critique of Power of Judgement). Actually, this way to think about the universe has the advantage of omitting a hell lot of talk about metaphysical nonsense we cannot possibly know about anyway.
    – Philip Klöcking
    May 7 '17 at 8:47
  • @Richard So if we prove that reality exists with experiment, are you saying we know of the worlds existence through induction?
    – user26403
    May 7 '17 at 16:32
  • I'm saying we can prove reality exists using the scientific method, which implies theory and observation. What reality is, is the question science is currently engaged with.
    – Richard
    May 7 '17 at 16:55

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