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Bloomington-Normal Freethinkers (BNFree) Message Board Monthly Reading & Discussion Group › March discussion: Is the universe a simulation?

March discussion: Is the universe a simulation?

user 190458835
Bloomington, IL
Post #: 24
Main sources:
Constructed reality: are we living in a computer simulation? (Podcast, ~17 minutes--discussion with David Chalmers, one of the speakers in the debate)
Are We Living in a Computer Simulation? (Article--essentially summary of the debate linked below)

Additional sources:
2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: Is the Universe a Simulation? (Video, 2 hours)
Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, Meditation I: Of the things which may be brought within the sphere of the doubtful (Book excerpt)


This month we will talk about The Matrix and say "Woah" a lot.

A very old question got a new gloss in 2016, when a group of physicists and a philosopher debated whether the universe is a simulation for the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate. Infamously, Neil deGrasse Tyson said that he thought the possibility very likely. While the question asked there was a very modern concern, the underlying issue can be asked in a much simpler way as well: "Can we have knowledge of the world outside of our minds?"

In various ways this question goes back to the post-Socratic Greek skeptics; St. Augustine posed it; Rene Descartes gave it perhaps its most famous formulation in asking whether we can be sure we aren't dreaming, or perhaps being deceived by an evil demon.

For this month we'll look at what philosopher David Chalmers has to say. Also posted are a video of the entire debate, including Professor Chalmers, and Descartes' Meditations, where (in the first Meditation) the classic version of this very old question is asked.
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