Common Criticisms

The aim of this project has never been to indoctrinate anyone or sell anything. Multisense Realism is a collection of ideas, conjectures, and critiques designed only to point the way to a new kind of understanding, which others are welcome to explore, criticize, or collaborate with.

For those who choose to criticize, or who cannot help but criticize MSR, I would only suggest that you not waste too much time telling me about it, unless you have something new to offer. In all likelihood, I have heard the arguments many times before, and you can save yourself some frustration by having a look at the following. I would also suggest referring to this diagram:


1. I don’t like how you write and I don’t like how people who write that way think.

  • Sorry about that. You can’t please everyone.

MSR may be guilty of relying excessively on neologisms and complicated sentences, but that should not be considered that as a rational grounds for rejection. All breakthroughs in understanding, whether they are scientific, philosophical, or social, tend to introduce new vocabulary, as it is often necessary to differentiate a new way of thinking from others that have come before.

Those whose minds are more focused on clarity and purpose find such language as found in philosophy, particularly in philosophy of mind, to be intolerably noisy. Not everyone experiences it this way. For every one person who levels accusations at these ideas as being “postmodern drivel” or “word salad”, there is another who finds them clear and illuminating.

My suggestion is that if you find the style of MSR to be upsetting, you should either set it aside and conclude that it is not for you, or use it as an opportunity to understand what it is about your perspective that makes you feel so strongly. What is it that feels that it needs to be defended?

Here is a comment from someone else online which expresses my rebuttal to language-based criticism:

Let’s talk about this in terms of dispositional stereotypes. You have a problem with philosophers who write in excess of your dispositional stereotype for doing philosophy. Willfully or not, they defy what you hold to be the acceptable protocols of philosophical discourse. And your way of dealing with this is to detain their heresy within the defamatory categories of authoritarianism and cowardice. Do you also defame the universe where it fails to conform to your model of it?

2) This doesn’t make any sense.

  1. You might be right, but your views probably don’t make as much sense to me.

I don’t expect that all of the ideas of MSR will make sense to everyone, or even to anyone immediately.  All of the ideas do, however, make sense to me. I am not trying to perpetrate any kind of hoax or hide behind obfuscation, but I will admit that some of the content is still rough and could use some editing for clarity.

I am aware that many of these concepts seem to skirt the edges of sanity, even when explained well, and that the way that the words and graphics used to describe them may amplify that effect. To some people I am a crank, and I think that it makes perfect sense that should be the case. Anyone who comes at this material from outside of an academic or scientific context runs that risk, and beyond that even, I make no claim saying that I’m not crazy.

What I do claim is that I am not so crazy that what I write doesn’t make sense to me; it does, and it does to enough people who have expressed to me that they understand it that I am not threatened by this accusation.

If you can’t make sense of it, feel free to ask me questions about it. If you still feel that it isn’t comprehensible, then I would suggest either coming back to it at another time, or resign yourself to the thought that these kinds of conjectures aren’t for you.

3) Your theory would have to contradict the Laws of Physics to be true.

  • Not at all. Since we have perceptions and participate in our experience, ordinary sense cannot contradict the laws of physics.

If this were true, I would agree that it was a serious problem. It is very easy to see anything which reinterprets the context of physics as contradicting physics, but factual observations of science can be interpreted in number of ways without denying what has been observed, and that in fact great shifts in understanding have occurred throughout history by reinterpreting fundamental assumptions about nature.

To be clear, nothing that I propose here should ever be construed as contradicting any observation of nature. The ideas discussed here about the relation between body and mind or matter and sense do not require any additional forces added to physics, and in fact that possibility is explicitly avoided by the explanation which results.

The notion of a universe which is grounded in an assumption of pansensitivity (a foundation which is aesthetic and participatory, based on perception rather than existential laws) is a profoundly disorienting idea at first, but no more so than other kinds of scientific re-orientations, such as the Copernican heliocentrism, or Einsteinian relativity. Neither Copernicus nor Einstein contradicted the laws of physics, rather they extended the range of understanding of physics.

4) Aren’t you just saying “If a Tree Falls in a Forest…”

  • No, idealism is not solipsism, and MSR is neither.

Frequently MSR is accused of being a form of solipsism. Because I say that physics and sense are in fact the same thing, it is common that people think that I must be talking about the sense experienced by human beings. That is far from true, although because my view is a Multi-sense view that is relativistic to each frame of reference, our human realism is as valid as that of any other frame of reference.

George Berkeley was the philosopher whose contributions were diluted into this kind of straw man where someone supposedly thinks that if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, that the sound never happened. Naturally this is ridiculous. Many organisms have ears or some kind, or tactile receptors which might register vibration in sonic way. The event of a tree crashing to the ground has lots of sensory opportunities with or without the benefit of the presence of Homo sapiens.

If we got rid of all ears, however, then you will have either eliminated all possible experiences of sound, or you accept that some receptivity of sound is present in non-living matter. The MSR position is that it is a mistake to presume sensation without both a transmitter and receiver, and in fact it is the separation of transmitting and receiving phenomena which defines ranges and modalities of perception.

5. You just hate science and don’t want to accept that computers will be superior to human beings someday.

  1. No, I like computers as much as I like humans, I just understand why they will always likely be different.

In the context of Artificial Intelligence, I have been criticized often for insisting that attempts to assemble consciousness mechanically are probably doomed to failure. It is assumed that my ideas are sentimental and reflect some sort of patriotic attachment to human beings, or an aversion to technology. To the contrary, I was as surprised as anyone when, in the course of developing Multisense Realism, that computation can only be a servant of sense rather than the creator of it.

Consciousness, in my understanding, is neither form nor function, nor is it a magical ingredient on top of physics. Instead, I now think that it is the fundamental ingredient in all possible universes. A mind cannot be built from the outside in, it can only arise naturally through sensory experiences, not mechanically through the manipulation of forms and functions.

This position leads people to jump to the conclusion that I am a biocentrist; that I think there is something magical about living cells which allows them to progress to higher quality consciousness than molecules alone. No, that is not my position either. What I think is that it is not the substance of the cells that matters, it is the experience which is represented by the image of cells. The cell is a token, a marker for the player in the public game, but it is not the literal player.

The development of biology as a consequence of nucleic acids can be seen as more akin to a second big bang than a random development. Biology is a single thread and plays a unique role in the cosmos as far as we know. If we have learned anything by being living organisms it is that we are both very adaptable and very finicky. We can eat a million different kinds of roots and leaves, but not even a tiny serving of arsenic. We should not easily disregard the difference between life and death, organic and inorganic, until we really know what we are talking about. We still have not made anything living completely from scratch, even after knowing how to make primordial soup for decades, so it is premature to proclaim that my conservatism here is unwarranted.

6) It is unfalsifiable

  • It might be, but falsification may not be the appropriate criteria in this case.

In my view, the question here is not so much whether MSR is falsifiable or not, but rather how legitimate of an expectation that is that any fundamental thing would be falsifiable. Since the idea of things being true, false, or provable is a quality of the mind, it is circular to attempt to use experiences within consciousness to prove something about consciousness itself. If you trust yourself enough to claim that you know something is true, then you are already saying that you take your own word for the validity of some capacities within consciousness. There is no getting under your own authority to validate your own authority, and in the case of the hard problem of consciousness, that is exactly what is required to make it falsifiable.

We already know that the problem with studying consciousness is that we can’t find any trace of it when we look inside someone’s brain. What we find is something like a coral reef, which pulses and throbs with teeming microbiotic events that correspond to subjective reports of consciousness, but without such reports, and our own conscious experience to draw on, we would certainly be looking at a cerebral reef and not a ‘person’. If we found this brain thing growing under our sink, we would not ask it what it is thinking about, we would kill it with fire.

We may not expect to receive this new idea of the universe with an Enlightenment Era stance, with our arms crossed, waiting to be bowled over by incontrovertible evidence. Unlike the physics of public phenomena, this other half of physics, the private half, requires our direct and personal participation.

In this new view, we have to meet the universe halfway, and our theory of consciousness has to meet us half way. We can’t be painted into a corner between some ion channel and an action potential, or squashed under a millions years of hominid evolution. To find consciousness, we must stay put and let the pieces to the puzzle fit together in the best way that they can.

7) It doesn’t serve any practical purpose.

  • Any hypothesis serves the practical purpose of leading to a scientific discovery.

The practical applications of any new theory in physics or mathematics are not readily knowable at the time of their inception. Copernican-heliocentric theory was less accurate than Ptolemaic-geocentric astronomy for all practical purposes for many years before technology improved enough to take advantage of the improvement.

There are a lot of applications that I can think of for Multisense Realism in psychology, psychiatry, politics, perhaps much more. Mainly I am excited that there is a plausible way to reconcile all of the major philosophical questions of the human condition with the observations of science. Isn’t that enough?

“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”— Albert Einstein

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” — Richard P. Feynman

  1. Joseph McCard (really)
    August 24, 2013 at 11:56 am

    “Prince Andrey, thinking to himself, at Drissa camp in regards to the Russian preparations for a war with Napoleon, June 26, 1812: The Frenchman is conceited from supposing himself mentally and physically to be inordinately fascinating to both men and to women. An Englishman is conceited on the ground of being a citizen of the best constituted state in the world…An Italian is conceited from being excitable and easily forgetting himself and other people. A Russian is conceited precisely because he knows nothing and cares to know nothing , since he does not believe it possible to know anything fully. A conceited German is the worst of them all, and the most hardened of all, and the most repulsive of all; for he imagines that he possesses the truth in a science of his own invention, which to him is absolute truth.” (part 9, book X, War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy)

    Must be in the genes : )

  2. Joseph McCard (really)
    August 24, 2013 at 12:09 pm


    “In 1806 Pfuhl [a German general advising the Russians] had been one of those responsible for the plan of campaign that ended in Jena and Auerstadt. But in the failure of the war he did not see the slightest evidence of the weakness of his theory. On the contrary, the whole failure of that war was to his thinking entirely due to the departure that had been made from his theory…Pfuhl was one of those theorists who so love their theory that they loose sight of the object of the theory -its application to practice. His love for his theory led him to hate all practical considerations , and he would not hear of them.” (ibid)

    • September 1, 2013 at 1:11 am

      Let me know if you want me to delete your comments here, in case you’re embarrassed.

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