|Why I think Warren Beatty is not the subject of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" »|
There is some consideration among skeptics as to what we should "believe," even to the point of not using "belief," as a concept.
First, it is axiomatic that I exist. For the simple reason that if I did not exist, this conversation could not exist. In your case, substitute you for "I" and thus you exist and can join the conversation.
Any person who makes the ridiculous claim that they do not exist, must, by their own statement, shut up, propose no further theories, and die. You can't make a claim by using the other side's concepts. Once you open your mouth to say anything, you concede you exist and that language exists. It is entirely possible you are arguing with nothing at all, but you are arguing.
Now, second, it is axiomatic that the world around me exists. Because if it didn't, again, this conversation could not take place. Even if this world was simply a figment of my imagination, that thing supplying me with the sensations would exist in my brain as a separate "process" the way a web browser and a word processor run on a computer in separate processes.
The following two items are new, I didn't accept them until a couple of years ago when I made the connections.
Third, I reject the idea that my own consciousness could be simulating the world around me, because it would require that I, at the time I was instantiated, had the capacity to completely imagine the entire world around me lacking any sense data or other information necessary to imagine these things.
For this to be possible, I, as an entity, having no sense inputs and no knowledge of anything, be able to create an entire construct of a world around me, despite the fact I have no information about anything to do so. Thus I reject this hypothesis as not possible.
Fourth, for that reason I accept the world around me, and concede that, while my senses are not perfect and sometimes do give me false information, they are mostly accurate and the data given is sufficiently adequate as to be accepted as valid until other evidence proves otherwise.
I must also accept the world around me because I have no choice. Absent evidence that the world is not real, if I fail to act in compliance with its mandates, I will die. I cannot step in front of any moving conveyance and not expect to be struck and most likely injured, possibly killed. I cannot fail to eat, drink or breathe, or I would also die.
So, in summary, I exist, I exist in a world of other people, and this world is, for all intents and purposes, generally a valid representation of what it appears to be and that it is real and substantial.
These are the things I accept as proven axiomatically, and while potentially they may not be comlpetely provable, I accept that they must, of necessity, be taken as proven for the reasons I have given.
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