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If reality exists independently from our senses, which I believe, then this is a fundamental question and I have some issues about it. First of all, if we perceive something (or better said a part of something, for example, the front part of the human), and we perceive it from close distance we can create a detailed image in our brain which 'corresponds' to the object in reality. If we perceive it from a greater distance, we can only perceive some features of the detailed image mentioned before. So I wonder, where is the middle, and how does an entity look like on 'default' when it's not perceived? Does it have all the features that we perceive, and what makes it itself independently of our perception. I hope you understand my question, and if not I'm ready to explain you my issues with more details. Thanks in advance.

asked Sep 12 '12 at 15:26

kevindurant's gravatar image


I would think the distance between the observer and the observed makes no difference to the nature of the object observed. An example that might help you:

Astrologists, in order to determine if a star system has any planets, observe the behavior of the star. If a planet exists, the star will stretch ever so slightly indicating gravity's pull on both objects.

We never really see the planet, but based on observations based on what we know of physics, light, etc., we can determine the size, rotation, composition, and many other characteristics of the planet.

(Sep 12 '12 at 16:00) JK Gregg ♦ JK%20Gregg's gravatar image

Remember that A is A. Everything in the universe has a nature, whether it is being observed or not. A distant planet made of nickle will look like any other planet made of nickle, all variables being the same (i.e. one planet isn't on the cusp of a black hole).

And a person is no different when she is far away, than when she is close up. The person still has skin and hair in either circumstance. Our observation does not change the nature of reality. Reality exists independent of us.

(Sep 12 '12 at 16:04) JK Gregg ♦ JK%20Gregg's gravatar image

But when looking from a distance, for example seeing a point in the sky, we can propose that it's a bird, and hipothetically moving closely we can come closer and see that it really is a bird. And moving more close we can see even more characteristics of the bird. But I don't understand where is the middle ground, and is the object (bird in this case) composed of the characteristics mentioned before, according to the distance of the observer watching it?

(Sep 12 '12 at 16:10) kevindurant kevindurant's gravatar image

I don't believe the "middle ground" you seek exists. Reality is absolute. A bird has feathers at 20,000 feet in the air and at 20 feet in the air. Whether we physically see the feathers is irrelevant. They exist. They're there.

Maybe I'm not understanding you.

(Sep 12 '12 at 16:14) JK Gregg ♦ JK%20Gregg's gravatar image

The middle ground that I'm seeking is nothing more than the question do all visual perspectives on a certain object exist, or more specifically do objects in those perspectives exist. It's a little bit hard to explain, but I refer to, let's call them 'zoomed parts of the objects'. Here I refer to the actual object watched from a close distance or from a long distance, from close we can see more of the object, and from long distance only some components of the objects, but my question is how do these components exist when we are not watching them, and how are they related to size also?

(Sep 12 '12 at 16:20) kevindurant kevindurant's gravatar image

OK... someone had to ask so I will: what about quantum superposition? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_superposition

(Sep 15 '12 at 12:15) Danneskjold_repo Danneskjold_repo's gravatar image

I'm not sure what you're asking, Danneskjold_repo.

(Sep 15 '12 at 18:00) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

For a general reaction to QM, you might find this earlier question interesting.

(Sep 15 '12 at 18:05) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image
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Or put another way, the question is invalid. It asks essentially, what does something "look like" when I'm not "looking" at it? Well it looks just like it would look if you closed your eyes. You wouldn't see it, it wouldn't have a "look" to you.

answered Sep 13 '12 at 12:06

la_phil's gravatar image

la_phil ♦

An "appearance" is a perspective that a viewer has on something. For example: it is that cup, as viewed by me, and from here. Notice that we are talking about a relationship -- not something existing independent of me and that cup. So if I'm not present, then of course that relationship cannot exist: that is, I have no perspective on the cup. Or, equivalently, the cup does not appear to me. It would be nonsensical to try to consider characteristics of that nonexistent relationship. Nonexistence isn't heavy or light, firm or soft, big or small, distant or close, or detailed or vague, because nonexistence doesn't have any characteristics at all.

So when something is not being observed at all, it has no appearance. And of course it remains exactly what it is even when nothing is looking at it. That cup still has its handle when I'm not looking because things are whatever they are independent of our awareness of them and their characteristics.*

(Yes, certainly a thing can have the potential for appearance(s) because something could come along and view it. Its actual appearance(s) would then be determined by the characteristics of the viewer(s), the object, and the circumstances. For example, I would enjoy a relatively impoverished view of a bird, which is far away, seen using my aged and unaided human eyes.)

answered Sep 12 '12 at 17:54

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

edited Sep 12 '12 at 18:06

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Asked: Sep 12 '12 at 15:26

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Last updated: Sep 15 '12 at 18:05