If a tree falls in the forest . . . | INFJ Forum

If a tree falls in the forest . . .

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Gaze, Jul 7, 2010.

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  1. Gaze

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    I was pretty late in understanding the true philosophical meaning behind this question:

    The answer is no, philosophically speaking, because unless we're close enough or near enough to a problem, issue or event to know it is exists or is happening, then we're not going to notice or be aware of it's effects. If we are separated by a water on various continents, and we didn't travel, view media, or read books about those who've travelled to those places, we wouldn't know what's happening. So, if a country on another continent needed help or assistance, we couldn't give it if we didn't know there was a problem and that we could do something about it. Can't help without being informed.

    For example, when the earthquake hit Haiti, without news organizations and tourists/civilians travelling across continents to visit, live, or work in Haiti, and unless someone was there to film the story, take pictures, testimony, write reports, and document the happenings, we probably wouldn't know that something occurred, would we? The sound in this case, is a sign of the need and desire to communicate in order to seek help to handle a natural disaster. So, even though someone had to record the sound and travel to another location to let everyone know a tree had fallen, or in other words, that there was an earthquake, then we wouldn't know it happened.

    A sound can signify anything which signals that something has occurred which needs to be acknowledged.

    So, what are other practical, real world examples of a tree falling in the forest . . . does it make a sound?
     
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    #1 Gaze, Jul 7, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
  2. Flavus Aquila

    Flavus Aquila Finding My Place in the Sun
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    That's a very humanocentric philosophy: nothing happens outside what we are aware of. While it is a possible way of interpreting reality, it isn't a very complete, or realistic way of interpreting it.


    Objectively, of course a tree makes a sound when it falls, insofar as it disturbs the air and ground. If you want to regard sound as something subjective, not objective - I am sure that many thousands of insects and animals perceive the disturbance in the air and ground with their ears.

    My question is this: what is the advantage (if any) of studying phenomena in an exclusively subjective way?
     
  3. OP
    Gaze

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    Question is not really about the biological phenomenon, but the metaphorical or figurative meaning of the question. So, it's not so much about whether the tree makes a sound how the proximity to an issue or event affects our awareness of it and ultimately the attention or response we give to it.
     
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  4. jyrffw54

    jyrffw54 שכינה עוֹלֶה

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    There are plenty....


    The one that first pops into my mind though is all of the ethnic conflicts going on in the world: Tamils v. Sinhalese, Hutus v. Tutsies, Suni v. Shiite, Jews v. Arabs, Hindus v. Muslims....The list goes on. If I hadn't taken AP Human Geography in High School, I would most likely have been unaware of all of these horrifying ethic conflicts that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of lives lost. So I have begun to make an effort to make sure I include what is going in the rest of the world in my news watching and also making an effort to at least infrom others about what is going on, because people need to know about this.
     
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  5. Flavus Aquila

    Flavus Aquila Finding My Place in the Sun
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    Are there degrees of [mental] proximity? It seems that in SoulOfTheLaurel's example of the earthquake in Haiti, there is could possibly be: ignorance; hearing that there was an earthquake in Haiti; hearing that there were many casualties caused by the earthquake; etc. But are these degrees of proximity to the 'sound' of the earthquake - or is there simply ignorance and knowledge (black and white)? In the example, one could say that one was ignorant of an earthquake in the first instance; cognisant of an earthquake, but ignorant of casualties; cognisant of both eathquake and causalites.

    It also seems possible give a response (or even a strong response) to issues, without knowing about them. (Let me explain this contradiction): I don't know for a fact if there are any homeless people in Canberra - an Australian city I occasionally have to visit because of work. Nevertheless, I will seek out and donate my used clothes to the St Vincent de Paul Society there, because I want to help homeless people. So I need not 'hear the tree fall' to do something about it. This is the function of general concepts, assumptions and intuitive guesses.
     
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  6. IndigoSensor

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    the whole "if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" question has never made any sense to me. The answer is unequivically yes. If you make movement, you disturb matter which transfers energy in the form of sound. Completely independent of whether or not there is an observer. It's not even a philsophical question to me.

    I had to chime in with that, this question has always annoyed me (in fact a lot of philosphy annoys me for parallel reasons to this, haha).
     
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  7. Flavus Aquila

    Flavus Aquila Finding My Place in the Sun
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    This kind of philosophy (the tree falls in the forest kind) seems almost cultish to me - a quasi-parrallel way of looking at things, devoid of any reference or compatibility (linguistically) with the physical sciences.

    Gimmie Aristotelian/Thomistic philosophy any day.
     
  8. Lerxst

    Lerxst Well-known member

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    And what is the sound of one hand clapping? :)

    It's interesting to hear a non-Zen answer to this question. In the Buddhist philosophy thoughts/ideas like this originated, the question has multiple answers. From that standpoint though, the answer is more like:

    No. It is too far away to hear, which represents problems/issues too far away from us to be resolved. Why worry and spend time seeking out problems that are not within our ability to solve?

    On that same example regarding Haiti: If a poor family in the US heard about that news and didn't have money to send or a way to volunteer, what good would hearing that news do for them? They'd simply have added stress in their lives they couldn't do anything about.
     
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  9. Poetic Justice

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    The answer to this question depends on a few things.

    How do you define "make a sound?"

    Is it the vibrating air that happens when two objects collide? is so then yes it makes a sound.

    Is it the subjective experience of how our brains interpret the vibrating air? If so then no it doesn't make a sound

    This question is originally from quantum physics and was intended to be about whether or not wave functions collapse if there is nobody about to collapse them.

    I think that they do or else how did stars and planets form if nobody was there to collapse the wave functions and thereby making them interact with each other
     
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  10. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    "no one is there to hear it" - this part is practically impossible. Unless of course only humans count. But then these same humans may even divide themselves into groups that count and groups that don't count. Some primitive tribe being there to hear may not count as someone anymore. When do we stop drawing the line?

    I think there's always someone to hear every tree falling, so they all make a sound. :)

    But I agree, technically, when life didn't even exist, the physical effect which we now call sound didn't even have a meaning. Of course, trees didn't exist either, or anything for which to feel sorry (the saying uses the tree as an allegory; we anthropomorphize the tree and feel sorry for it as if it were human), so the punch effect of this saying wouldn't work.

    Here's another one:

    If a tree falls in the forest... and no one is there to ask themselves whether a tree falling in the forest when no one is there to hear it would make a sound, does it make a philosophical casus?

    edit:
    okay, all of the above is actually off-topic, the topic is about examples that apply to the saying. Let me think. Well, each time some incredible creativity comes out of the woodwork, or from the dust of forgotten centuries. Or each time scientists discover something new about the world, which changes our whole perspective. From our viewpoint it looks as if suddenly the world got, say, gravity, which it "didn't have" before it was discovered. We even still call Europe "the old continent". It's not older than the other continents, but the culture there perceived itself as the center of the universe, and this culture had the most influence on today's international culture.
     
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    #10 enfp can be shy, Jul 7, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
  11. aeon

    aeon Ooh, a bunny!
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    Actually, Indigo, this is incorrect. In acoustics, sound is a function of energy waves acting upon a tympanum; without the observer there is no sound, even if there is still a release of energy.


    cheers,
    Ian
     
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  12. Trifoilum

    Trifoilum find wisdom, build hope.

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    It -does- make a sound, but proverbially speaking, what happens after that? Does someone, or something's listening? Philosophically, or metaphysically speaking, I believe everything that happened in the world causes some-thing-, either reaction or connection or anything, but.. what happens after that?

    Thank goodness for the Internet, for we (at least, some of us) can be more aware when another tree falls.

    Twitters and Facebook status updates are probably the most practical and personal falling trees around our lives. (Perhaps, more than we need to know.)
     
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    #12 Trifoilum, Jul 7, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
  13. IndigoSensor

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    Meh, semantics.
     
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  14. laurie

    laurie Snowblind in Dreamland

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    I agree with this, despite the whole idea of sound needing to be heard to exist. I mean, it I look away from a building, does it disppear?

    Oh wait... I don't actually know :eek:

    I'm changing my answer to 'It should'.
     
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  15. Billy

    Billy Contents Under Pressure
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    Yes it makes a sound, and it kills insects, animals and vegetation as well. All living things are able to witness and experience to a degree, just because we are cognitive and they are not, does not mean it didn't happen.

    By that vein, you don't exist because I am not there to see you. But you have left a message and I can read it, therefore I have proof that you exist. But I didnt see you type it out.
     
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  16. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    That is the "to be is to be perceived" school of thought. Even thinking about the tree falling constitutes perception in this case.

    I disagree with it. It depends on how perception is defined. Perception either is or is not limited to living humans. If it is limited to living humans, then any event in the material universe affects us regardless of whether we perceive it directly. One need not know what a stone is in order to feel the ripples that it makes. If not limited to living humans, then obviously there is no perceiver responsible for making sure the event happened.

    This is what happens when one becomes trapped in the confines of language to the extent that they can no longer see the forest for the trees, so to speak. What I mean is that an event does not need to be transmitted or processed through language in order to have occurred. Language is not the limit of being; if anything, the inverse is true.
     
  17. Inquisitive

    Inquisitive Steering By The Stars

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    Although the philosophy itself doesn
     
  18. Tulip

    Tulip Community Member

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    Whether anyone hear a tree falling in the forest has no implication
    on whether it does make a sound.

    Something which you cannot see, hear or feel does not mean it does not exist.

    :ranger:
     
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  19. BostonAndy

    BostonAndy Community Member

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    If a falling tree only makes noise when someone cognitavely notices it, what about all the treed before humans.

    Trees fall all the time... euphamistically... that I should have heard but didn't. So the consequences are the same, whether we notice it or not. Whether we act on hearing is another story entirey.

    But as others have posted above, I arrive at this conclusions becuase I am not inclined to think that only human witnessing of an event validates its existence.
     
  20. headache

    headache Community Member

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    For me, my TV makes sound.

    For a deaf person, my TV makes no sound at all. Instead, to them my TV makes physical vibrations.

    So using this as a guide, I would say No. For a sound to be a sound, it must be heard. If no one hears it, it is just a physical, felt, manifestation.:eek:hwell:
     
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