On nonexistent objects and imaginary worlds

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/10/05/on-nonexistent-objects-and-ima.html

Science fiction, fantasy, and the rules for sports games: It turns out that our minds are able to understand these things. Well, you know… except for muggles, that is.


Referring to aestheticians as “Philosophers of Art” is pretty fancy considering they’re people who professionally wax pubes.

I like that he has a collection of Jack Handey’s Deep Thoughts on prominent display though.

When I see an old lady slip and fall on a wet sidewalk, my first instinct is to laugh. But then I think, what if I were an ant, and she fell on me? Then it doesn’t seem so funny.


When aesthetics are brought up (in the context of philosophy), this is what comes to mind:


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This is a problem I encounter with people (and complain about on BB) on a regular basis. Anything and everything one can think of exists because thoughts themselves are real. The human brain constantly symbolizes, but is often not clear on what (and what kind of existence) it is symbolizing. It is a fundamental problem and fairly easy to understand - provided that one is aware that one does not directly perceive the outside world, but only perceive analogies one constructs loosely based upon it.

The classic philosophical rumination asks “Is the thought of a unicorn real?”. Everything is real, but you may or not know what it really is, or represents, or signifies. It is easy to objectively measure that thinking of a unicorn occurs. They popularly symbolize concepts such as love and innocence, which also demonstrably exist. Those who might complain that “that’s cheating” or sophistry because unicorns aren’t demonstrated to exist as actual animals is only demonstrating a lack of understanding of what mythology is and how the mind works.

The video I think is in error by framing this in terms of existent/nonexistent, real/unreal because “thinking about something which doesn’t exist” presupposes that thought itself does not exist, which would be a very troublesome and difficult premise to start from. The reason they frame it this way is for purposes of easy accessibility because so many people misunderstand the actuality behind it. Also, the recursion of thinking about thoughts and symbolizing about symbols is to a large extent what makes human cognition so powerful.

“Is it possible to make true assertions about things that aren’t real?”

The short answer is: Yes.

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