I received today an ancient-looking book with a stamp of “Berkeley Library, University of California” that I ordered used from Amazon. Title is “The Dream of Reality”.

This Saturday I was randomly discussing “Infinite Jest” with my friends, I come back home and find out Scott Bakker had posted a review of the book. From there, as you can see in the comments, spawned a long discussion between me and him (mostly) as much about the book as about these extreme theories on “reality” and “science”. One of those coincidences, patterns that bend and return to origin.

Anyway, the discussion is mostly there, in the comments, and I won’t even TRY to give a summary over here.

What I’ll do is paste the last page of this book:


So we have come full circle. Chapter 1 began by identifying how we live in language, an object language that generates an objective reality. The notion of objectivity was then explained from epistemological, linguistic, and neurological perspectives. The principle of undifferentiated encoding was also discussed.
Chapter 4 through 7 then addressed the question: Can we account for cognition without first positing the existence of an objective reality? A closed computational view of the nervous system was offered as an alternative explanation for cognition and our experience of reality. Thus, we have two different accountings for cognition.
The problem of solipsism was introduced, the identity of another stipulated, and, by evoking the principle of relativity, the world postulated. The observer’s choice to infer the world based upon the experience of perceiving another observer was then offered as the basis for ethical behavior.
The question was then raised: Since these two accountings, these two epistemologies, use and need language, can they account for language? We found that only constructivism’s connotative notion of language allows for the emergence of language – second-order behavior arising in social context.
A denotative language generates an objective reality but cannot generate itself; it cannot account for itself. A connotative language can account for both human experience and the emergence of language.
Thus, the final chapter closes the thoughts in this book by folding Chapter 7 back to Chapter 1, closing this system of ideas – the final closure. Therefore, I would like to suggest that if the reader has the time and interest, it would be extremely useful to reread this book. If one accepts the notion that we are nontrivial machines, then it is but a short step to assume that each recursive journey through these seven chapters will be a different experience.

Heinz Von Foerster, a man of infinite jest.

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