If A Tree Fell In The Forest......

If a tree fell in the forest and no one was around to hear it would it make a sound?

Please refer to this thread:
ilovephilosophy.com/phpbb/vi … p?t=138279


Easily tested. Leave a running tape machine in the forest, and then listen to it later. I bet you will hear a crash.

If you dismiss this answer, perhaps you will tell me what is wrong with it.
And please consider the question, “What would you count as evidence that there was a sound, if you would not count the tape machine test?”

The question arises because there is a confusion between the questions, “Is there a sound?” and "How do you know there is a sound? This confusion is compounded by imposing a certain view of knowledge which confuses knowledge with certainty.

P.S. Compare the question about sound with the question, are the leaves of the trees (in the summertime) green, when there is no one in the forrest? Is the answer that “green” has two meanings: our perception of green, and the light rays of a particular length that bounce off the leaves?

ha, I think that this is third or fourth time that this topic has been created since I’ve been here.

Aha, it’s all good fun.

I have issues with the tape machine test in that it adds so many extra assumptions that the question changes radically and so can’t provide an answer to the original one. Technically we’re now saying, “If you play a tape recording of a tree falling in a wood that may or may not have made a sound and also that there was no-one there to hear it, is the tape recording the actual sound of a tree which fell in a wood when no-one was there to hear it, or is it just a tape recording?”. Or something equally obtuse.

Anyway, the answer. gis.washington.edu/cfr250/entert … 0woods.pdf

Godspeed.

[quote=“Kajun”]
Aha, it’s all good fun.

I have issues with the tape machine test in that it adds so many extra assumptions that the question changes radically and so can’t provide an answer to the original one. Technically we’re now saying, “If you play a tape recording of a tree falling in a wood that may or may not have made a sound and also that there was no-one there to hear it, is the tape recording the actual sound of a tree which fell in a wood when no-one was there to hear it, or is it just a tape recording?”. Or something equally obtuse.

Anyway, the answer. gis.washington.edu/cfr250/entert … 0woods.pdf


I don’t think that “obtuse” is the word you want. But, if you want the word “complicated” I think your question is needlessly compicated.

The question you ask about the tape recording is whether it is the sound of the tree falling, or “just a tape recording?” But what are you asking with “is it just a tape recording?” You mean that someone faked it? A tape recording of what? Do you think that a tape recorder which, let us say we subject to rigorous tests in a laboratory before we use it, would suddenly malfunction and have on tape a sound that was like a tree crashing without there actually have been a tree crashing. If so, then let’s change the test a little. Let’s have 11 tape recorders going at the same time. Or 111, if you like.

Your question only implies that we cannot be absolutely certain that the tree crashed in the forrest if we are not there to see it do so and hear it. But, if absolute certainty is really the issue, then we cannot be absolutely certain that we are hearing the tree crash in the forrest even when we are there. So the whole question about the tree in the uninhabited forrest is just a red-herring, and really not the point at all. The issue is absolute certainty. And no. There is no absolute certainty about anything at all, and not only about whether a tree that falls in an uninhabited forrest makes a sound.
But then, you are right. The original issue has been changed, and we are no longer dealing with it.

Try looking up the definition of sound. It will help a lot with the coming of a conclusion.

I have moved beyond the question in this topic, to one more relevant to my day-to-day life, and it appears in the first of my signature. It is somewhat rhetorical and flippant, but nevertheless would seen to be true, if one considers the opinion of virtually every woman to whom it has been addressed. :wink:

A tape recorder doesn’t record the sound from the tree. It records the waves that travel through the air when the tree falls. If the tree falls and no one is around to here it THERE IS NO NOISE. Just the waves that travel through the air. So to me it doesn’t make a sound.

This was inleast what my philosophy teacher told my class.


Then, when I listen to the tape recorder, what do I hear if not the sound the tree makes when it falls? And how is that different from what I hear when I am in the forrest and hear the crash when the tree falls? Why should there be a difference between what I hear when I am actually there, and when I hear the sound on the tape recorder?
Ask your teacher that.


Then, when I listen to the tape recorder, what do I hear if not the sound the tree makes when it falls? And how is that different from what I hear when I am in the forrest and hear the crash when the tree falls? Why should there be a difference between what I hear when I am actually there, and when I hear the sound on the tape recorder? Either I hear a sound when I am right there, and also when I hear the tape recorder, or I hear nothing, but there are just sound waves. I think it is the former. Don’t you?
Ask your teacher about that.

— God, this question again…

—This is a Zen question designed to put one in a state of no-mind. If you define sound as what a human hears then no. our senses never register an exact replicate of an event.

Ok, I’ll explain it to you. When the tree crashes it sends out sound waves. A sound wave is not actually noise its just an invisible wave that is traveling through the air(very important to remember that there is no noise yet) and then if you are standing there it will hit the ear. When it hits the ear signals will go back and forth between the brain and the ear and a Sound is created. Sound is your bodies reaction to the waves that were sent when the tree crashed. So if nobody with ears and a brain is around sound will not be created when the tree crashes. Understand?

Again, I request that someone posts the definition of sound, as it is of dire importance to the answer of this question.


Sure. “Sound” is the internal accusative of “to hear,” just as “taste” is the internal accusative of “to taste.” That is, what we hear are sounds, and what we taste are tastes, and so on.
So if a tree falls in a forest, what is heard is the sound it makes. And if no one is there, then it makes a sound even if it is not heard.
Clearly, if you hear something, then what you hear is a sound. But it does not follow from that, nor is it true, that if it is not heard, it is not a sound. To draw that inference would be to commit the fallacy of denying the antecedent, as it is called. It would be like arguing that if Paris is in Germany, then Paris in in Europe, so, therefore, if Paris is not in Germany, then Paris is not in Europe. Clearly, Paris need not be in Germany (as it is not) but may still be in Europe, as it is. If all the people in the world turned deaf this instant, there would still be sounds that no one could hear. Why should something happening to the the ears and auditory system, make any difference to what occurs in the world?


Nope. You must think that the “Big Bang” wasn’t a bang at all, and not even a whisper. Physicists think it was pretty (deafeningly) loud. What about the tape recorder? Just why can’t there be sounds no one hears? (Even the poet, Keats, wrote, in his “Ode on a Grecian Urn” “Heard sounds are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter still.” Was he wrong because there are no unheard sounds?) Or which can be heard only when a tape recorder records them? I would have thought that there would be no sound if a vacuum had been created, so that there was no medium to carry the sound waves. But not because there was no one to hear the sound. Why, on earth, must there be someone to hear the sound for there to be a sound? The presence of a vacuum prevents a sound. That’s physics. But what is the science that tells you that the absence of a hearer prevents a sound?

Sound Waves Do Not Equal Noise. They are just waves through the air.

A tape recorder does not record Noise. A tape recorder records the Waves. When we listen to the tape recorder the tape sends the waves and when they hit our ear WE THEN HEAR A SOUND. The human/animal ear/brain creates the noise from the sound. The sound we hear is due to the waves causing vibrations within our ear. HUMANS HEAR THE SOUND. the actual noise is within us and is caused by us. NOISE does not exist outside the animal ear.

I don’t know how to explain it to you any other way.

The fault with your arguments is all in definition, as I have been hinting towards from the beginning. Sound is not dependent on the ear.

Sound (n.) 1. Vibrations transmitted through an elastic solid or a liquid or gas, with frequencies in the approximate range of 20 to 20,000 hertz, capable of being detected by human organs of hearing. 2. Transmitted vibrations of any frequency.

Notice that it says capable of being detected by human organs, not dependent on them.

So whether you have a tape recorder or not, when a tree falls, it makes a sound, by definition.


I don’t think there is nose “in” us. A person with a stethoscope, for instance. would not hear anything in us.
“NOISE does not exist outside the animal ear.” Sorry, even if you say it three times, that doesn’t make it true.
I simply do not see why you think that the tape recorder experiment does not show there the tree made a sound when falling. (Or rather, I think I
I see why you believe it, but I don’t think that your argument is right. The tape recorder experiment is what we would [/i]call showing there was a sound even when no one heard it. Why do you think the birds would fly away in panic when the tree fell if there wasn’t a loud crash?
And, do you really want me, or any physicist to believe, that there wasn’t a big
bang[i] on the occasion of the big bang?
As I pointed out before, I believe that had someone created a vacuum at the moment the tree fell, the tree would not have made a loud sound. But why should it be that the absence of hearers would create the same effect?

sound1 ( P ) Pronunciation Key (sound)
n.

Vibrations transmitted through an elastic solid or a liquid or gas, with frequencies in the approximate range of 20 to 20,000 hertz, capable of being detected by human organs of hearing.
Transmitted vibrations of any frequency.
The sensation stimulated in the organs of hearing by such vibrations in the air or other medium.
Such sensations considered as a group.
A distinctive noise: a hollow sound.
The distance over which something can be heard: within sound of my voice.
Linguistics.
An articulation made by the vocal apparatus: a vowel sound.
The distinctive character of such an articulation: The words bear and bare have the same sound.
A mental impression; an implication: didn’t like the sound of the invitation.
Auditory material that is recorded, as for a movie.
Meaningless noise.
Music. A distinctive style, as of an orchestra or a singer.
Archaic. Rumor; report.

v. sound·ed, sound·ing, sounds
v. intr.

To make or give forth a sound: The siren sounded.
To be given forth as a sound: The fanfare sounded.
To present a particular impression: That argument sounds reasonable.

v. tr.
To cause to give forth or produce a sound: sounded the gong.
To summon, announce, or signal by a sound: sound a warning.
Linguistics. To articulate; pronounce: sound a vowel.
To make known; celebrate: “Nations unborn your mighty names shall sound” (Alexander Pope).
To examine (a body organ or part) by causing to emit sound; auscultate.

Phrasal Verb:
sound off
To express one’s views vigorously: was always sounding off about higher taxes.
To count cadence when marching in military formation.


[Middle English soun, from Old French son, from Latin sonus. See swen- in Indo-European Roots.]

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

— Skeptic, as usual your ideas are right on the money. I think we need to define sound. Your definition is correct, but i call attention to the italicized portion of the definitions (from dictionary.com).