Friday, January 26, 2007


My video response to the blasphemy challenge with actually legible text went up here almost two weeks ago. While nobody has commented on the new version, the only real question that seems to need answering, judging by the comments on the blurry-text version, is what do I mean when I say "I deny the existence of reality"?

Before I state my actual position, I would like to demonstrate the necessity of involving semantics in the matter by presenting something which appears problematic but is not key to my belief.

Let us take the common sense notion of reality, somewhat formalized, that reality is defined to be everything that exists. Obviously, we should then ask what is meant by existence, but we will ignore this question for now.
It seems natural to me, a mathematician, to formalize this definition further by defining the term "reality" to refer to the set consisting of all things which have the property of existence. Now, let us ask the question: does reality exist?
Strictly speaking, our definitions tell us that this is, in essence, asking whether "reality" is an element of the set "reality".
Supposing that "reality" is an element of itself, we may construct a version of Russell's paradox, rendering this supposition untenable.

An obvious change to our interpretation of the question appears to resolve this issue, but raises another: "is reality a subset of itself?"
In this case the answer is clearly yes, but in order to interpret the question "does reality exist?" in this fashion we must assume that the property of "existence" applies not only to all elements of reality but also to all subsets. By our definition of reality, this means that all subsets of reality must also be elements of reality and so reality must contain its own power set, bringing us back to the previous problem.

The above argument does not in itself prove the nonexistence of reality, rather it points out that we must develop a good understanding of our concepts and questions before it can be meaningful to ask questions about our concepts.
Unfortunately, I do not believe such a thing is possible in our current conceptual framework.

I would like to jump back to an earlier point and say that the intuitive notions of reality and existence suffer from a major flaw in that they are circularly defined.
"What is reality?" "Reality is everything that exists."
"What does it mean for something to exist?" "Something exists if it is real."
Obviously, these concepts will not suffice in conforming to whatever may actually be.

Concepts of "reality" range between the very vague and the very precise. The very vague notions are useful for everyday living and thought and probably include some measure of correspondence with the universe but they are too fuzzy for ontological questions, in my opinion. I have never heard of or concieved of a concept of reality with even moderate precision that I believe is internally consistent, let alone corresponds to the universe (except the nihilistic concept, which seems like a cop-out). I cannot even develop vague notions of characteristics that such a moderately precise concept of reality might have. As such, I believe that my current understanding (and, unless I hear otherwise, that of others) is insufficient to form a coherent question which could take the place of the meaningless "does reality exist?" and therefore I must conclude that neither "reality exists" nor "reality does not exist" are true (whatever true may mean), given our current concepts behind those words.

It was pointed out to me earlier today, that perhaps "I deny the existence of reality, but I don't quite mean it that way" was not the best way to concisely get across my beliefs. This may be the case, but it's something I can't change now.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Technical Difficulties

My response to the blasphemy challenge has gone up on youtube here. Unfortunately, the text in the video shrunk so small during recompression that it's essentially illegible. I'm currently working on recording a textless version of the video which I can fit subtitles onto after recompression, hopefully clearing up the text.

I've also been having difficulty with posting text comments on youtube; it seems that either youtube randomly drops my comments, there's an intermittent significant delay in comments appearing on the site, or I can't post comments to my own video. In any case, this problem has kept me from posting the link to this blog in a comment on my video. I have been able to link my youtube user profile here as well as putting this URL into the video's description, so hopefully this post will actually be read by someone while it's still fresh.

Friday, January 5, 2007

First Post

The reason I decided to finally start this blog (I've been thinking about doing so for a while) is that I've also decided to post a video response to the blasphemy challenge. Since I would not want to state my beliefs without explaining my reasons behind them, I decided that in order to keep the video short I will be terse in the video and considerably more comprehensive here. Of course, since I haven't actually made the video yet, I'll refrain from putting any details here until such time as I know which beliefs I need to justify.

Ultimately, I am hoping to flesh out all of my beliefs here over the coming months, but I would rather start with something relevant.