Melihat dan Percaya

Apabila kita membuka mata kita dan lihat beberapa perkara, kita lihat bahawa perkara sialan. Apakah yang boleh menjadi lebih jelas daripada itu, betul? Katakan anda sedang mencari anjing anda. Apa yang anda lihat adalah benar-benar anjing anda, kerana, jika anda mahu, anda boleh menjangkau dan menyentuh. Ia menyalak, dan anda boleh mendengar pakan. Jika ia berbau agak, anda boleh bau ia. Semua petunjuk persepsi tambahan menyokong kepercayaan anda bahawa apa yang anda lihat adalah anjing anda. Secara langsung. Niat saya.

Sudah tentu, tugas saya di blog ini adalah untuk bertanya soalan, dan keraguan cast. Pertama sekali, melihat dan menyentuh seolah-olah menjadi agak berbeza daripada mendengar dan berbau. Anda tidak ketat mendengar kulit anjing anda, anda mendengar bunyi yang. Begitu juga, anda tidak bau secara langsung, anda bau bau, jejak kimia anjing itu telah meninggalkan di udara. Pendengaran dan berbau tiga persepsi tempat — anjing menjana bunyi / bau, bunyi / bau bergerak kepada anda, anda melihat bunyi / bau.

Tetapi melihat (atau menyentuh) adalah satu perkara yang dua tempat — anjing itu ada, dan anda di sini perceiving secara langsung. Mengapa bahawa? Mengapa kita merasakan bahawa apabila kita melihat atau menyentuh sesuatu, kita rasakan secara langsung? Kepercayaan dalam kebenaran persepsi daripada apa yang kita lihat dipanggil realisme naif. Kita tentu tahu yang melihat yang melibatkan cahaya (begitu juga menyentuh, tetapi dengan cara yang lebih rumit), apa yang kita lihat adalah cahaya yang terpantul dari objek dan sebagainya. Ia adalah, sebenarnya, tidak berbeza daripada sesuatu yang mendengar. Tetapi pengetahuan ini mekanisme yang melihat tidak mengubah semula jadi, pandangan akal bahawa apa yang kita lihat ialah apa yang di luar sana. Melihat adalah mempercayai.

Diekstrapolasi daripada versi yang naif adalah realisme saintifik, yang menegaskan bahawa konsep-konsep sains kita juga sebenar, walaupun kita mungkin tidak melihat mereka secara langsung. Jadi atom adalah nyata. Elektron adalah nyata. Kuark adalah nyata. Kebanyakan saintis kita yang lebih baik di luar sana telah tidak percaya extraploation ini kepada tanggapan kami apa yang nyata. Einstein, mungkin yang terbaik daripada mereka, disyaki bahawa walaupun ruang dan masa tidak mungkin menjadi nyata. Feynman dan Gell-Mann, selepas membangunkan teori pada elektron dan kuark, menyatakan pandangan mereka bahawa elektron dan kuark mungkin konstruk matematik dan bukannya entiti sebenar.

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