Seeing and Believing

우리가 눈을 뜨고 무언가를 볼 때,,en,우리는 그 망할 것을 본다,,en,그보다 더 분명한 것은,,en,당신이 당신의 개를보고 있다고 가정 해 봅시다.,,en,당신이 보는 것은 정말로 당신의 개입니다,,en,때문에,,en,네가 원한다면,,en,손을 뻗어 만질 수 있습니다.,,en,짖어,,en,그리고 당신은 씨실을들을 수 있습니다,,en,약간 냄새가 나면,,en,당신은 그것을 냄새 맡을 수 있습니다,,en,이 모든 추가 지각 적 단서는 당신이보고있는 것이 당신의 개라는 당신의 믿음을 확증합니다.,,en,직접,,en,질문 없음,,en,이 블로그에서 제 일은 질문을하는 것입니다.,,en,의심을 던지다,,en,보고 만지는 것은 청각과 후각과는 조금 다른 것 같습니다,,en,당신은 당신의 개 짖는 소리를 엄격히 듣지 않습니다.,,en,그 소리가 들린다,,en,직접 냄새가 나지 않습니다,,en,당신은 냄새를 맡습니다,,en,개가 공중에 남긴 화학 흔적,,en,청각과 후각은 세 가지 지각입니다,,en, we see that damn thing. What could be more obvious than that, right? Let’s say you are looking at your dog. What you see is really your dog, because, if you want, you can reach out and touch it. It barks, and you can hear the woof. If it stinks a bit, you can smell it. All these extra perceptual clues corroborate your belief that what you are seeing is your dog. Directly. No questions asked.

Of course, my job on this blog is to ask questions, and cast doubts. First of all, seeing and touching seem to be a bit different from hearing and smelling. You don’t strictly hear your dog bark, you hear its sound. Similarly, you don’t smell it directly, you smell the odor, the chemical trail the dog has left in the air. Hearing and smelling are three place perceptions — 개가 소리 / 냄새 발생,,en,소리 / 냄새가 당신에게 전달됩니다,,en,당신은 소리 / 냄새를 감지합니다,,en,하지만보고,,en,또는 감동,,en,두 곳이다,,en,거기 개,,en,여기에서 직접 인식하고 있습니다.,,en,우리가 무언가를 보거나 만질 때 왜 느끼는가,,en,우리는 그것을 직접 감지합니다,,en,우리가 보는 것의 지각 적 진실성에 대한 이러한 믿음을 순진한 현실주의라고합니다.,,en,우리는 물론 보는 것은 빛과 관련이 있다는 것을 압니다,,en,너무 감동,,en,하지만 훨씬 더 복잡한 방식으로,,en,우리가보고있는 것은 물체에서 반사 된 빛입니다.,,en,뭔가 듣는 것과 다르지 않아,,en,하지만 보는 메커니즘에 대한 지식이 우리의 자연을 바꾸지는 않습니다.,,en,우리가 보는 것은 거기에 있다는 상식적인 견해,,en,보는 것은 믿음이다,,en,순진한 버전에서 외삽 된 것은 과학적 사실주의입니다.,,en, the sound/odor travels to you, you perceive the sound/odor.

But seeing (or touching) is a two place thing — the dog there, and you here perceiving it directly. Why is that? Why do we feel that when we see or touch something, we sense it directly? This belief in the perceptual veracity of what we see is called naive realism. We of course know that seeing involves light (so does touching, but in a much more complicated way), what we are seeing is the light reflected off an object and so on. It is, in fact, no different from hearing something. But this knowledge of the mechanism of seeing doesn’t alter our natural, commonsense view that what we see is what is out there. Seeing is believing.

Extrapolated from the naive version is the scientific realism, 우리의 과학적 개념도 사실이라고 주장합니다,,en,우리가 그들을 직접 인식하지는 못하더라도,,en,그래서 원자는 진짜입니다,,en,전자는 진짜입니다,,en,쿼크는 진짜 다,,en,우리의 뛰어난 과학자들 대부분은 이것이 진짜라는 개념에 대한 우리의 관념에 대해 회의적이었습니다.,,en,아인슈타인,,en,아마 그들 중 최고,,en,공간과 시간조차도 현실이 아닐 수 있다고 의심,,en,파인만과 겔만,,en,전자와 쿼크에 대한 이론을 개발 한 후,,en,전자와 쿼크가 실제 개체가 아닌 수학적 구조 일 수 있다는 견해를 표현했습니다.,,en, eventhough we may not directly perceive them. So atoms are real. Electrons are real. Quarks are real. Most of our better scientists out there have been skeptical about this extraploation to our notion of what is real. Einstein, probably the best of them, suspected that even space and time might not be real. Feynman and Gell-Mann, after developing theories on electrons and quarks, expressed their view that electrons and quarks might be mathematical constructs rather than real entities.

What I am inviting you to do here is to go beyond the skepticism of Feynman and Gell-Mann, and delve into Einstein’s words — space and time are modes by which we think, not conditions in which we live. The sense of space is so real to us that we think of everything else as interactions taking place in the arena of space (and time). But space itself is the experience corresponding to the electrical signals generated by the light hitting your retina. It is a perceptual construct, much like the tonality of the sound you hear when air pressure waves hit your ear drums. Our adoption of naive realism results in our complete trust in the three dimensional space view. And since the world is created (in our brain as perceptual constructs) based on light, its speed becomes an all important constant in our world. And since speed mixes space and time, a better description is found in a four dimensional Minkowski geometry. But all these descriptions are based on perceptual experiences and therefore unreal in some sense.

I know the description above is highly circular — I talked about space being a mental construct created by light traveling through, get this, space. And when I speak of its speed, naturally, I’m talking about distance in space divided by time, and positing as the basis for the space-time mixing. This circularity makes my description less than clear and convincing. But the difficulty goes deeper than that. You see, all we have is this cognitive construct of space and time. We can describe objects and events only in terms of these constructs even when we know that they are only cognitive representations of sensory signals. Our language doesn’t go beyond that. Well, it does, but then we will be talking the language, for instance, of Advaita, calling the constructs Maya and the causes behind them Brahman, which stays unknowable. Or, we will be using some other parallel descriptions. These descriptions may be profound, wise and accurate. But ultimately, they are also useless.

But if philosophy is your thing, the discussions of cognitive constructs and unknown causations are not at all useless. Philosophy of physics happens to be my thing, and so I ask myself — what if I assume the unknown physical causes exist in a world similar to our perceptual construct? I could then propagate the causes through the process of perception and figure out what the construct should look like. I know, it sounds a bit complex, but it is something that we do all the time. We know, for instance, that the stars that we see in the night sky are not really there — we are seeing them the way they were a few (or a few million or billion) years ago because the light from them takes a long time to reach us. Physicists also know that the perceived motion of celestial objects also need to be corrected for these light-travel-time effects.

In fact, Einstein used the light travel time effects as the basis for deriving his special theory of relativity. He then stipulated that space and time behave the way we perceive them, derived using the said light-travel-time effects. This, of course, is based on his deep understanding that space and time are “the modes by which we think,” but also based on the assumption that the the causes behind the modes also are similar to the modes themselves. This depth of thinking is lost on the lesser scientists that came after him. The distinction between the modes of thinking and their causation is also lost, so that space and time have become entities that obey strange rules. Like bent spoons.

Photo by General Press1

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