TLDR: I don’t 100% know anything.

I’ve been doing a lot of self-introspection recently. That led me to question beliefs I took for granted.

I learned that math is essentially a language. I wouldn’t say English is the objectively correct spoken language. What makes anything about math objectively right? I realized that one plus one only equals two if I assume the Peano axioms are true.

I learned that the sky might not be blue. Why are blind people or anyone who doesn’t see the sky as blue wrong? Animals perceive color differently. Maybe the majority of beings don’t see a blue sky? Multiple theories claim that humans don’t see anything close to reality. 

I googled “can I know anything?” My favorite answer cited Descartes' statement, “I think therefore I am.” To me, that means if I’m thinking, I exist.

But, what does it mean to “exist”? What if I’m in a simulation? Some people have dreams from the perspective of another person. Does that person temporarily exist?

Multiple philosophers have claimed that Descartes should’ve said thinking is occurring. But I don’t know how to 100% define “think” either. Once again, if I’m programmed to think in a simulation, does that count as thinking? If God determines my actions, am I thinking?

I don’t know what “I” means either. Am I still the same person I was when I was 2? I look different. Trillions of cells in my body have changed too. Am I still myself because my brain cells don’t change? Am I still myself if I forget everything in the past?

I feel like I’ve always been in the same body, even though my appearance has changed. But maybe my body doesn’t represent me? Some theories of dualism propose the mind can exist without a body. 

Bernardo Kastrup believes we’re all one being. He thinks the universe essentially has a big case of dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality disorder). 

I don’t think I 100% know anything. The thing I most believe, without any presuppositions, is that someone has been alive. If I’m in a simulation, someone created the simulation. If I’m in a dream, someone is dreaming. I haven’t seen anyone claim that nobody has ever existed.

It’s been humbling to realize that I’ve often been too quick to assume I knew an absolute truth. I’ll try to be more aware of my assumptions in the future.

(cross-posted from my blog: https://utilitymonster.substack.com/p/i-think-therefore-someone-is-or-was)

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If by "to exist" you mean "to exist in some more... real way than a determenistic cellular automata universe with rules I just created in my head, but which no one has yet simulated", then "something at all exist" is not so obvious.

https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/jpbdbgoDikQtubqPD/a-paradox-of-existence

My epistemic status is extremely low, but I’ll try my best to answer. I’m saying that there was a being that the general human would describe as alive at some point in base reality. 

I think my answer to “do you mean existence in a more real way than a "deterministic cellular automata universe with rules I just created in my head, but which no one has yet simulated?” is no. 

That’s mostly based on my understanding of the term deterministic. I googled it and got "relating to the philosophical doctrine that all events, including human action, are ultimately determined by causes regarded as external to the will.” If so, then I don’t think I’m claiming existence wouldn’t be deterministic. It depends on how will is defined. 

I think of all beings as a machine in some sense, whether it’s biological, a classical/quantum computer, or something I can’t comprehend. For example, I suspect that my genetics (which may or may not be ultimately be a product of a simulation) lead me to do whatever I do and they respond to the environment. So if I interpret having will as the ability to ignore my genetics to make my own choices, I don’t think I have will. 

I guess at some point my genetics could be modified. But that would happen based on how I or someone else who wants to modify my genes makes choices based on their existing genetics.

Also, I’m interpreting cellular automata universe as a universe of beings made of biological cells generated by a computer. Is this correct? If so, I am envisioning that whatever is base reality isn’t a classical computer. But I don’t mean to say it has to have been created through a process like the big bang.

I think we have some miscommunication. My point was that if I think about rules and initial state of some deterministic cellular automata, then all events that will happen in it are predetermined whether or not I program and run it. So it's not obvious that existence of universe it describes depends on whether or not it is actually simulated. Actually, why stop here, it may not even be necessary for someone to think about rules and initial state, why not?

I read that Stephen Wolfram thinks something similar, I think.

I'm not confident I'm understanding everything again.

I can see how a universe could only exist conceptually. I have trouble imagining how base reality would only exist conceptually. So I'm claiming I'm nearly 100% that there's more of an existence than the concept of base reality. 

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