Implications of a plausible Sentience Platonism in the prevention of suffering
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Manuel de la Herrán Gascón
Philosophy, Reality, Sentience
Even if the probability of Sentience Platonism were extremely small, while there is a higher than zero probability, and considering that is not very clear where sentience comes from, we might think twice before disregarding this idea, because should it be true, its implications for preventing suffering would be immense.
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Platonism is considered an ontological dualism which proposes the existence of two kinds of reality:
- a sensible world (the world of things perceived by the senses, in which the individual realities, materials, which happen in time and space, such as an apple, are found) and
- a world of ideas (the world of things known through reason, where the immutable, eternal, invisible, intangible, independent of time and space realities, such as the idea of apple, are found).
Platonism may seem an unnecessary complication, as well as being unintuitive. It seems reasonable to think that the things which we perceive exist without being inherited from some ideal.
However, platonism in mathematics can be very intuitive and difficult to reject. The numbers in the infinite series of natural numbers (1, 2, 3, 4...) seem to have some sort of timeless and independent platonic existence. Arbitrarily large natural numbers which no one has ever thought of and no one has ever represented (written, spoken...) seem to have some kind of eternal, unchanging self-existence. Natural numbers seem to be in an ideal place, always available to be invoked or discovered, but not invented.
If it does not seem impossible to have some kind of platonism in numbers, why not propose a possible platonism of experiences?
The different perceptions we have (and particularly, the visual ones) converge towards a specific, objective material external world where water weighs more than oil. Curiously, something similar happens with platonic ideas, such as mathematics, which also converge towards a set of certain truths, where the length of a circumference is equal to the diameter multiplied by a curious number that we call Pi. If it is the convergence of subjective experiences that gives credibility to the physical world, should not the convergence of mathematical ideas give credence to the platonic world of mathematics? Many people agree on the first point, very intuitive (convergence of subjective experiences gives credibility to the physical world), many less with the second point (convergence of mathematical ideas gives credibility to the platonic world of mathematics). I further propose a third: that the convergence of subjective experiences gives credibility to a possible platonic world of experiences.
I will give the name Sentience Platonism to the idea that experiences exist by themselves, regardless of the sentient beings who experience them. Even if the probability of Sentience Platonism were extremely small, while there is a higher than zero probability, and considering that is not very clear where sentience comes from, we might think twice before disregarding this idea, because should it be true, its implications for preventing suffering would be immense.
It does not seem entirely unreasonable to think that if somehow the experiences of concrete beings depended on certain platonic experiences, then modifying or even eliminating the platonic experience could alleviate certain negative experiences for all beings or even cause them to disappear altogether.
Sentience Platonism can be reinforced by the idea that perhaps we live in a simulation and beings may be "instantiated" from an ideal object, in the same way as "instances" of software objects in "Object-Oriented Programming".