Conception on the Simulation Theory

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The conception of reality is a construct many philosophers have dwelled on, and many have attempted to devise doctrines and theories on the topic, in hopes of answering this dilemma and achieving a greater understanding of the universe. A philosopher named Nick Bostrom developed a theory that viewed reality and existence as a computer simulation and believes everyone is part of the simulation. However, the technology required to develop such a simulation does not exist yet, but Bostrom believes that if humanity continues to have its technological progression, then in the far future the advance technology required will already be invented.

And the future post human civilizations will develop a computer simulation which the present humanity is currently inside of. Nick Bostrom’s theory has three essential possibilities and it is believed that at least one must be true. The first possibility is that the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a post human stage. The second possibility is that any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run the simulations, meaning that even though it is possible to create a simulation they have no interest in doing so. The third possibility is that we are all almost certainly living inside a computer simulation. In order for one of the possibilities to be correct the other two must be proven wrong. Bostrom’s Simulation Theory is very controversial as many philosophers have apposing arguments on the topic.

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An individual named Antiplato believes Bostrom’s Simulation Theory to be correct and has come to the conclusion that his conscience is merely a computer simulation and that whatever he has experienced up until this point is not real. After coming to this conclusion, he states that, “Even the number one does not exist because I’ve never observed it. At best, the number one is merely conceptual invention, but not a real object like the paper on which you are reading this assignment on.” This argument given by Antiplato causes one to question what is real and what is not. In order to test the validity and soundness of this statement, its arguments must lead to a necessary conclusion and all of its premises must be considered true. Antiplato’s argument can be reconstructed to form hypothetical premises all of which lead to his thesis, being that the number one does not exist. Two premises that can be derived from Antiplato’s argument are: if X exist than X must be observed, and the number one has not been observed. “X” in the premise being a variable representing all other objects besides one. These premises lead to the conclusion that the number one does not exist, as it has not been observed. This type of argument follows the modus tollens logic, as the primary conditional statement is accepted (if P then Q) and the consequent is negated (not Q), which causes the negation of the antecedent (not P). Because this argument leads to a necessary conclusion and follows the modus tollens logic, it is considered to be valid.

However, while Antiplato’s argument is considered valid it is not considered sound, as not all the premises are true. If philosopher Plato were still alive today, he would reject the first premise, being “if X exist then X must be observed.” Since an object could exist regardless of one’s observance of it. Plato believes that knowledge gained through the senses is no more than an opinion, and that our knowledge on existence is innate and is not something that could simply be acquired. Plato is a metaphysical realist and suspects that our perception on reality is not learned but recalled. Plato believed that there is a more real world, sperate from the world we see through our senses, a world of Forms where everyone receives all of their knowledge before birth. To explain our relationship to the world of the forms, Plato wrote an analogy in the Republic about people who spend their whole lives living in a cave, this is called the Allegory of the Cave.

The story concerns human perception and conveys the differences between people who mistake sensory knowledge for the truth from people who really do see the truth. In the story there are prisoners who spend their whole lives chained in a cave only able to see shadows on a wall. They believe these shadows to be real animate objects, but one day one prisoner is freed and once outside the cave he discovers that the shadows are merely reflections of real objects. At first, he finds it hard to believe but he eventually accepts this new knowledge and understands that what he is seeing outside the cave are the objects true forms and that the shadows he perceived before were mere illusions. The world outside the cave is symbolic and represents Plato’s concept of the real world of forms, while the shadows represent the knowledge attained from the world we live in through our senses. This story by Plato signifies how human perception can be changed and influenced causing it to be unreliable, making the first premise of Antiplato’s argument false as observance of an object does not alone justify its existence.

The second premise of Antiplato’s argument being, “the number one has not been observed,” is a true statement and would be accepted by Plato, because while a form of the number one might be observed, the true form of the number one might be a concept that is unobservable. The number one represents a type of form; forms are the essence of an object. Plato believes that there is a world separate from the one we live in, that is unchanging, eternal, and exists outside of time and space. This other world is often referred to as the Platonic world and contains all the true forms and ideas of reality, and everyone receives all their knowledge of the forms from this world before they are born. Then once born everyone’s knowledge come from recollection of the forms from the Platonic world. Forms are concepts of objects, and there can be multiple interpretations of certain forms. An example of a form is a cell phone. A cell phone is a concept or idea of an object that can be carried around and used to make call and communicate with others. However, there are multiple types of cell phones in the world today, and since they all fit the description of our understanding of a cell phone then they can all be classified as one. This means there can be multiple classes for certain forms observed in the world everyone lives in, but there is only one true perception on the forms and that comes from the Platonic world. This proves Antiplato’s second premise to be true, because the true form of the number one could be a concept making it physically unobservable.

If Nick Bostrom conception on the Simulation theory is true and we are all living inside of a simulation, then it will be very difficult to differentiate between what is real and what is a simulation. According to the philosopher Plato the only way to determine reality is through the recollection of forms. And if the world is all being simulated then all knowledge gained from the physical world cannot be trusted, because none of it is real. The only knowledge that is real is our conception and understanding of the forms, received from the platonic world which is separate from the false simulated world. If the simulation theory is correct, then all of reality would be a deception as everything that is experienced in the world would be a lie. This makes attaining knowledge from the world impossible as there is no way of receiving validation on whether or not the knowledge received is trustworthy. All of humanities discoveries and acknowledgments from the beginning of time up until the current point of existence will become meaningless as the everything gained will have been based off of false understandings.

Antiplato’s perceptive on the simulation theory is intriguing and I personally believe that the theory is plausible. With the current progression of technology it is very possible that in the far future, a posthuman civilization will be capable of simulation entire universes. And with that possibility it is highly likely that we are all inside one. However, I don’t see any reason why this knowledge should affect my beliefs on what is real and who I am. Since, learning the truth does not change my state of existence. If I were to discover that I am part of a simulation, learning the truth will not change the fact that I am inside of and have always been part of a simulation. Realizing the truth doesn’t not make my existence any more or less real than it already is. So, in the end I would most likely remain the same and just try to live my life to the fullest as my existence will continue to remain the same.

Work Cited

  1. Bostrom, Nick. “Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?” The Philosophical Quarterly, vol.
  2. 53, no. 211, 2003, pp. 243–255., doi:10.1111/1467-9213.00309.
  3. Plato. Plato’s The Republic. New York :Books, Inc., 1943. Print.
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Conception On The Simulation Theory. (2021, Mar 25). Retrieved from