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How can I prove that I exist to someone else?

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posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 12:52 AM
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Yes, I am asking a really big question here. How can I prove that I exist to someone else?

I guess Socrates would ask me how I could first prove that I exist to myself. To that, I would have to state that I am here to debate it. If I were not here to debate it, then I would not be debating it. It's an "I think, therefore I am" scenario. Now, whether or not what I see is what's real, is another question - but I do know that, in one form or another, I do exist and have consciousness.

So, how do I show somebody else that I have consciousness? Saying "You think, therefore I am" or "I think, therefore you are" does not apply here. I cannot perfectly follow their thoughts, and while they may lay out their memories for me, speak to me, and try to send me what they're thinking, my own existance will not prove theirs.

So what will prove my existance to someone else? For this, I must make the assumption that the other person actually exist - but that I may not, and disqualify "I think therefore I am" from the arguement.

Perhaps I'm actually being to exclusive. Perhaps the fact that I recieve a reply denotes some form of thought somewhere on behalf of someone. Though the idea that perhaps this isn't actually reality, but an evil genius' virtual reality, may seem to counter this - it still implies there is another out there who has programmed this simulated version of a person to talk to. One could then argue that God is proof that another consciousness is at work.

However, what if I am God, and this is my dream. What if I am all that exists, and I have created this illusion but for my own purpose and will? Yes, I do believe that being responded to is not proof that someone else exists.

So where does that leave us? If we say that this person, since them speaking to me does not prove their consciousness, cannot speak - would it not be the same thing as a computer - perhaps a very well programmed one? How could a computer prove to me that it has consciousness?

It would have to be a signal that I knew to be true; that I could relate to; that could be expressed without words. Perhaps this is where the computer analogy fails. A person can easily show me happiness, and love, and hatred. These can be unspoken - and they are things that I can have a direct association with. If they did something for me, and I felt better, and then I did something for them, and they felt better too - would that prove their existance to me?

Perhaps that's what's needed to see if a person exists, to feel emotions with them. Only then will I connect with a person.


I don't know, what are your views on this?




posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 02:25 AM
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I think that if you send me all your money , You will feel real


But in response to your post, It really does come down to "I think therefore I am" You would be surprised how many animals as well as people just live life off pure instict.

If you can not only think for yourself as well as make Conscious choses based soley on your own opnions ,than you My Friend, Exist as a Conscious entity!

An example would be , earlier this week I was sitting in the front lobby of where I work(I work for an insurance broker as an Insurance Agent), I was chatting with the front counter girl, when a man walked in to make a payment. The man Looked Like he wanted nothing else but to spit out verbal venom to me and the lady sitting next to me, But i could tell that he was probably having a bad day.

So i asked him "Whats up bud? are you having a bad day?" and he went and told me how Awful his week was going, One thing after another, things just weren't going his way at home , at his business even people on the way to and fro where giving him a hard time.

And I said to him "its times like this that you are tested bud" and he replied "yeah yeah i know what doesn't kill me makes me stronger or god test our faith or something like that" and he didn't say it in a beligerant manner, He was just frustrated.

My response was "No its not that life is toughening you up or that Some higher power wants to test your faith, But that its times like these that the person inside you sees what it can truly handle" "Some people are the nicest guys in the world , but the second that a little bit of turbelance is in their way , They become Uber-ssholes, Its during the tough times in life, that we get to see the people that we really are!"

My point with this little story is really about personal choice, As long as you have Choice you exist, If you could do nothing but follow the same predictable path under the circumstances than your consciousness should be in question.

I think their are alot more qualities to actually existing , but to me , being able to think and choose what to do in life are big ones.

hope my opnions help you out a bit



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 02:39 AM
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My advice is that when you encounter someone who truly doubts your existence, avoid that person at all cost. That person is either psychotic, demented, stoned, or exceedingly rude.

Here a discussion of the consciousness of computers you might find appealing and informative. You might also read the works of the existentialists.

"There is no reality except in action. Man is nothing else than his plan. He exists only to the extent that he fulfills himself. He is, therefore, nothing else than the ensemble of his acts, nothing else than his life."

--Sartre



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 10:23 AM
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Yarium, I sympathize. It's a huge question, I've raised it before in several contexts -- mostly in discussions about the origin of consciousness -- and nobody seems able to understand it. They always seem to slide into answering a different question than asked.

Bordnlazy responded as if you had asked how you can prove to yourself that you exist, not to another person.

Grady responded as if you had asked how to deal with a nutzo jerk who truly believed you didn't exist.

Neither of those is what you asked, of course.

I can give you a simple answer: it can't be done. There is absolutely no way to objectively or interpersonally prove the existence of consciousness, no test that can be performed to determine that a person is really a person and not a biological automaton, going through the same behavior (down to the cellular and neuronic level) that we do, but experiencing nothing from within.

This at one extreme, and the universe as a whole entity at the other, represent the limits of science. Both are outside science's grasp, the universe as a whole because it, too, cannot be observed (the observer being part of the universe, something is always left out).

And I believe there's another connection between those two, between the infinitely small conscious Self within, and the infinitely great All without. And this is the basis of all religious thought, even though unacknowledged by most religions.

[edit on 16-12-2005 by Two Steps Forward]



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 11:25 AM
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I prefer the position of Descartes:

'I think, therefore I am' (paraphrased)

But then, a new dilemna--how to prove to another that you think?



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 11:41 AM
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If you want to prove to someone else that you exist, there are several really simple things you can do to them. Ellaborating on the request for all of your money above....here are 2:

1) Punch them in the face. If they hurt, you proved that at the very least your fist exists.

2) Steal all their important stuff from them. If it causes them difficulty in their life, and subsequent pain from it, then it proved that you at the very least could cause something that does exist to modify. Therefore you must exist in a capacity to do so.

If this doesnt work, please refer to the above mentioned "psycho" paragraph.

The problem is this. People like to take simple things, and make them complicated. Maybe its a result of the human inferiority complex that I feel we all are somewhat guilty of.

If that other person can interact with you, than you at least exist in their reality.



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 11:59 AM
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Originally posted by Sight2reality
If you want to prove to someone else that you exist, there are several really simple things you can do to them. Ellaborating on the request for all of your money above....here are 2:

1) Punch them in the face. If they hurt, you proved that at the very least your fist exists.


This, and your second suggestion, proves that you exist as an objective entity, which is not the question nor in doubt. It does not prove that you exist as a subjective entity. It does not prove that, if I were to punch you in the face, there would be anybody home to feel it.



If this doesnt work, please refer to the above mentioned "psycho" paragraph.


The question isn't about people who actually don't believe that the OP exists and how to deal with them. The question really comes down to "what am I?" How to prove that I, as a subjective entity, exists is only a way to approach that question, something that sheds light on it.



If that other person can interact with you, than you at least exist in their reality.


As an objective entity, yes. As a subjective entity, no.



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 12:22 PM
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Originally posted by Two Steps Forward
Grady responded as if you had asked how to deal with a nutzo jerk who truly believed you didn't exist.

I can give you a simple answer: it can't be done.


I think you need to re-read my response. The quote from Sartre is not as blunt as Sight2reality, but they're on the same page.




"There is no reality except in action. Man is nothing else than his plan. He exists only to the extent that he fulfills himself. He is, therefore, nothing else than the ensemble of his acts, nothing else than his life."

--Sartre



Personally, I wouldn't waste my time on someone who questions my reality, although I could, as Sartre and Sight2reality point out, prove such by my actions.

"The proof of the pudding is in the eating," comes to mind. Even my signature alludes to the nature of reality.


[edit on 2005/12/16 by GradyPhilpott]



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 12:34 PM
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Originally posted by Yarium
Yes, I am asking a really big question here. How can I prove that I exist to someone else?

--

Perhaps I'm actually being to exclusive. Perhaps the fact that I recieve a reply denotes some form of thought somewhere on behalf of someone.

To prove it you'd have to bring yourselves into eachother's reality.. it can be an adventure in itself to 'sense' someone's existence and then somehow have circumstances allow you to meet or converse with them after already 'knowing' them.
If you mean in an exististenualistic level.. [your post is a little vague] ..seeing is believing and all we have are our senses.

No-one can see beyond the scope of their own vision.

[edit on 16-12-2005 by riley]



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 12:48 PM
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Originally posted by GradyPhilpott

Originally posted by Two Steps Forward
Grady responded as if you had asked how to deal with a nutzo jerk who truly believed you didn't exist.

I can give you a simple answer: it can't be done.


I think you need to re-read my response.


Just to make sure everything's clear, Grady, here is what I posted above including the sentence you snipped:



Grady responded as if you had asked how to deal with a nutzo jerk who truly believed you didn't exist.

Neither of those is what you asked, of course.

I can give you a simple answer: it can't be done.


This clarifies that I wasn't saying that dealing with nutzo jerks can't be done. I was saying that proving to another person that you (as a subjective entity) exist can't be done.

I was also saying that "How do I deal with nutzo jerks" wasn't what the OP was asking, and so your response to him wasn't really pertinent.



The quote from Sartre is not as blunt as Sight2reality, but they're on the same page.



"There is no reality except in action. Man is nothing else than his plan. He exists only to the extent that he fulfills himself. He is, therefore, nothing else than the ensemble of his acts, nothing else than his life."

--Sartre




Here, I have to say again that what Sarte is describing is a person as an objective entity -- a person viewed from without by someone else. Subjectively, from within, not only is what he said not true, it's almost irrelevant. Certainly it's irrelevant to the OP's question.

Subjective existence -- not the fact that thinking or feeling happens, but the fact that I think, I feel -- that all of this is not only viewed from without, but experienced from within -- is a huge mystery, completely inexplicable and impossible to model. That is what I believe the OP is talking about. And what Sarte was talking about, being something that can be observed from without, is something completely different.



Personally, I wouldn't waste my time on someone who questions my reality, although I could, as Sartre and Sight2reality point out, prove such by my actions.


No, you couldn't. As I noted, your actions can only prove that you exist as an object, not as a subject, and that isn't in dispute. So you could punch someone in the face. OK, but that doesn't prove there is anyone home experiencing doing the punching.

If someone punches you in the face, YOU feel it. If you're out hiking, and a wind knocks down a tree branch and it hits you on the head, YOU feel it.

Does the wind feel itself hitting you? We generally assume not.

Does the person who punches you feel himself/herself doing it? We generally assume so.

But how can this be proven?

[edit on 16-12-2005 by Two Steps Forward]



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 12:51 PM
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To expound just a little. I cannot prove that Grady Philpott exists because, 1) my name is not Grady Philpott and 2) I can't find any Grady Philpotts, other than the persona created by me, by using the resources of the internet.

The presence of my posts here should prove to anyone who accepts his own existence that someone out there posts to this site using the user name, GradyPhilpott.

I am reminded of the efforts of astronomers who seek planets in the universe by looking not so much for the planets themselves, but for their gravitational effects.




The first planets to be found around nearby stars have never been seen. Instead, astronomers have discovered them indirectly, inferring the existence of an unseen companion through its effects on the star itself.

planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov...




[edit on 2005/12/16 by GradyPhilpott]



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 12:58 PM
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Originally posted by GradyPhilpott
The presence of my posts here should prove to anyone who accepts his own existence that someone out there posts to this site using the user name, GradyPhilpott.


The objective existence of the person who posts under the name GradyPhilpott is not what the OP is asking you to prove.

That GradyPhilpott also exists subjectively, i.e., also feels and personally experiences the act of posting, is.



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 01:03 PM
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Perhaps you should compare what your existance was like before you were born to see which one is more real.



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 01:17 PM
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OK, perhaps I missed the subjective reality component, but Yarium's post seems to mirror Descartes' essay on this subject, although it has been nearly twenty years since I pondered the Cartesian conundrum. I would suppose that in a purely objective way, as I believe Descartes posited, that we can only be sure of our own existence and only then based on our ability to ponder our own existence.

I would suggest that the proof of another's subjective reality is to be found in meaning and coherence. When we see goal directed activity by an object, I think we can safely assume that there is a subjective reality behind such activity--not proof, perhaps, but it's about all we have to go on. A robot might perform meaningful and coherent acts while not possessing a subjective reality, but based on our experience, we know that someone had to program the machine.



[edit on 2005/12/16 by GradyPhilpott]



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 01:29 PM
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Originally posted by Two Steps Forward
That GradyPhilpott also exists subjectively, i.e., also feels and personally experiences the act of posting, is.


This might be tangential, but I don't think GradyPhilpott feels anything. I do. I have always been very careful to make sure that online GP represents me, as opposed to when I first invented the character, which at the time it was an alter-ego. When I decided to use the name GradyPhilpott online, I decided that in cyberspace, it would be better to use GradyPhilpott as a pseudonym rather than an alter-ego. However, when I assume the character of Grady Philpott in 3D, he remains my alter-ego. I am reminded of the Wizard of Oz. I hope this clarifies that situation, somewhat, from my perspective.



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 01:39 PM
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Grady, this being a favorite subject of mine I'm speaking my own thoughts a lot, and maybe this is a time to disclaim that I'm not necessarily speaking for the OP. I think I know what he means, but I could be wrong.

That having been disclaimed -- for me anyway, the point of asking if I can prove my subjective existence to someone else isn't because I doubt it, or because I think they doubt it, or because I doubt theirs. It's a way of getting at the deeper question of just exactly WHAT it is, and what causes it.

I fully agree that, for practical purposes, it makes a lot more sense to assume that other people are just as subjectively aware as I am. But the fact remains that it IS an assumption. And the fact that we cannot actually observe subjective awareness or test for it says that it is not a part of, nor in any way we understand derived from, the things that we can observe and test for. It says that we cannot account for consciousness through any function of the brain. It also distinguishes consciousness from any mental function that we CAN account for in that way, including memory, behavior, cognition, and affect, and even imagination. Because all of these can be modeled in an objective, no-subjective-awareness way, speaking in terms of information processing, hypothetical modelling, and behavior. Data go in, data are processed, informed behavior comes out -- all without the necessity of anyone being home to experience it all.

Yet we know, at least each of us in our own case -- KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, more certainly than we know anything else -- that someone IS home to experience it all, and as you point out, that's also a reasonable assumption (though unprovable) about other people.

What IS consciousness? Where does it come from? Why is it here? If it's not a brain function, what is it a function of? Is it a function of anything?

"The soul" isn't an answer, either. The soul, as usually conceived, is something treated as if it were an objective entity -- something that could in principle be seen, it's just that we can't -- of which this unobservable mystery, consciousness, is a function. Attributing consciousness to the soul suffers from the same logical problem as attributing it to the brain, with the added problem that we don't even know that the soul exists.

What I have come to conclude is that consciousness is an emergent property of existence itself, that everything is, in potential, conscious; that there is really only one consciousness, that of the cosmos in toto, and all individual consciousness is an illusion. All of the things that make us individuals are functions of the brain, but consciousness cannot be -- therefore it is separate from them, and our self-perception as individual points of awareness is illusory.

It also follows from this that if we could create a machine with certain key observable properties -- sense perception, information processing, motivation, and indeterminate behavior -- then that machine would be as conscious as we are. Because the consciousness is always there, in potential, and it requires only those four things to make it manifest.



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 01:55 PM
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Originally posted by Two Steps Forward
It also follows from this that if we could create a machine with certain key observable properties -- sense perception, information processing, motivation, and indeterminate behavior -- then that machine would be as conscious as we are. Because the consciousness is always there, in potential, and it requires only those four things to make it manifest.


Well, I think Descartes might disagree, because his reality test was awareness of self, not the environment, but I'm beginning to argue both sides of the argument, I think, no pun intended.




But the fact remains that it IS an assumption. And the fact that we cannot actually observe subjective awareness or test for it says that it is not a part of, nor in any way we understand derived from, the things that we can observe and test for. It says that we cannot account for consciousness through any function of the brain. It also distinguishes consciousness from any mental function that we CAN account for in that way, including memory, behavior, cognition, and affect, and even imagination. Because all of these can be modeled in an objective, no-subjective-awareness way, speaking in terms of information processing, hypothetical modelling, and behavior.


If I may put on my clinical hat, you are perfectly correct in this assumption. Clinically speaking, one can never assume intent of the actor based upon observation. A clinician can note the objective, but must ascertain the subjective, e.g., I can observe and describe a person's affect, but I must ask that person about his mood and then comment on their congruence.


[edit on 2005/12/16 by GradyPhilpott]



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 01:57 PM
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I am really glad that so much discussion has come out of this.

As said, perhaps there is no way to determine if another person exists - or if in fact anything exists beyond your consciousness. But are we taking existance too exclusively? Delving into existentialism, existance is whatever we make of it - and so long as I take it as truth that others exist, then I have no reason not to think about it until given reason to otherwise.

But then one can believe and take the stance that story characters exist - which, obviously, they don't. They exist merely in the imagination of you as you read it - and the existance of, say, Luke Skywalker in your mind is different than the existance of Luke Skywalker in the mind of the person next to me - as we see slightly different things

So we are left at the conundrum of the boundary. To take a step to either side either means entirely that others do exist, or that others don't exist. Theologically, we should be kind to these possibly non-existant others because they might exist and we should act as if they do. However, in the search for existance and the understanding of the universe, we have to take the other step and say they do not exist, and we should deal with them as if they were creations of ourselves imbued with free will of their own.

However, I always like to return to Socrates, we are trying to find the truth. And the truth is, apparently, that this is an unanswerable question. It may be a forever gray area on the search for truth. If the search for truth can be said to be a road with many divergences and convergences, then this is a road that leads us in a circle, back to where we were, and we have no choice but to turn around and find the truth along another path.

Although I must say, there were many interesting ideas that have come up here. For example, the idea that if you have choice, you exist. Wonderful little thought. But what happens when you are left with no choices? We have no choice but to die, and we have no choice but to make choices - are we, at these times, then non-existant? Personally, I see life as the ultimate choice "Do you accept God?" I do not mean this in the religious tense, but in a more spiritual and personal sense (I find religion is too constricting - but beliefs, ah, those are without limits). Perhaps a better way of saying it is "Do you accept the truth?"

Also, why do we "waste our time" on questions like these? I have a simple answer - and I guess it reflects on everything I've said. It's the search for the truth, for something pure and uncensored, no matter how good or how bad. If I believe people to exist for my soul benefit (in effect, they do not exist, but are abstractions of myself) - then wouldn't the best way to deal with them is to have them help me? Goals here are then self-based with. Objectively, if they are abstractions of yourself, wouldn't helping others help yourself? In that case, you should be as kind to others as possible, for then you may be a better person and feel more complete.

If people do in fact exist, then there's a whole 'nother ball park of adventures and questions. Are they born good or born evil? Do they crave freedom or control? Do they want love, anger, or both? Do they want a helping hand, or to be left alone? If I call to them, will they answer?

I don't know... but I think it's very important to question the foundations that we live on - for who knows when everything we know will be turned on our heads?



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 02:40 PM
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Originally posted by Two Steps Forward

Originally posted by Sight2reality
If you want to prove to someone else that you exist, there are several really simple things you can do to them. Ellaborating on the request for all of your money above....here are 2:

1) Punch them in the face. If they hurt, you proved that at the very least your fist exists.


This, and your second suggestion, proves that you exist as an objective entity, which is not the question nor in doubt. It does not prove that you exist as a subjective entity. It does not prove that, if I were to punch you in the face, there would be anybody home to feel it.



If this doesnt work, please refer to the above mentioned "psycho" paragraph.


The question isn't about people who actually don't believe that the OP exists and how to deal with them. The question really comes down to "what am I?" How to prove that I, as a subjective entity, exists is only a way to approach that question, something that sheds light on it.



If that other person can interact with you, than you at least exist in their reality.


As an objective entity, yes. As a subjective entity, no.


This is specifically what I was referring to by making simple things difficult. When it comes to philosophy, this is a big problem. There is a line you cross when you go this route. It can be enlightening, and sometimes fun to do thought experiments such as this, but taking terms such as "subjective entity" to heart crosses that line.

If you exist, everything around you must as well, because you interact with it. Even if that interacting object is unaware, it exists to you! There is no further rationalization needed. It is mindless, and needless.



posted on Dec, 16 2005 @ 03:24 PM
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Originally posted by Sight2realityThis is specifically what I was referring to by making simple things difficult. When it comes to philosophy, this is a big problem. There is a line you cross when you go this route. It can be enlightening, and sometimes fun to do thought experiments such as this, but taking terms such as "subjective entity" to heart crosses that line.


Why?



If you exist, everything around you must as well, because you interact with it. Even if that interacting object is unaware, it exists to you!


Since the question is precisely whether it is aware, that it exists to you doesn't answer it.



There is no further rationalization needed.


"Need" implies a purpose. For what purpose is thought "needed" in your view, so that once the need is satisfied any further cerebration becomes a waste of time?



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