Nakakakita at paniniwala

Kapag binuksan namin ang aming mga mata at tingnan ang ilang bagay, nakita namin na damn bagay. Ano ang maaaring maging mas kitang-kita kaysa sa, karapatan? Sabihin nating ikaw ay tumitingin sa iyong aso. Ano ang nakikita mo ay talagang iyong aso, dahil, kung nais mong, maaari mong maabot ang out at hawakan ito. Barks ito, at maaari mong marinig ang woof. Kung stinks ito ng kaunti, maaari mo itong amoy. Ang lahat ng mga dagdag na perceptual mga pahiwatig corroborate iyong paniniwala na kung ano ang nakikita mo ay ang iyong aso. Direktang. Walang mga katanungan nagtanong.

Oo naman, aking trabaho sa blog na ito ay upang magtanong, at nagsumite ng mga pagdududa. Una, nakikita at hinahawakan ay tila na maging isang bit iba mula sa pandinig at amoy. Hindi mo na mahigpit na marinig ang iyong mga aso bark, maririnig mo ang tunog nito. Katulad nito, hindi mo ito direktang amoy, amoy mo ang masarap na amoy, ang kemikal trail ang aso ay umalis sa hangin. Pandinig at amoy tatlong perception lugar — ang aso ay bumubuo ng tunog / masarap na amoy, ang tunog / amoy paglalakbay sa iyo, perceive mo ang tunog / masarap na amoy.

Ngunit nakikita (o hinahawakan) ay isang bagay dalawang lugar — ang aso doon, at sa iyo ito dito perceiving direkta. Bakit na? Bakit sa tingin namin na kapag nakita o pindutin ang isang bagay namin, direkta ito pakiramdam namin? Ang paniniwala sa perceptual katotohanan ng kung ano ang nakikita namin ay tinatawag na walang muwang pagiging totoo. Ng kurso namin malaman na nakikita ay nagsasangkot ng liwanag (kaya ginagawa hinahawakan, ngunit sa isang higit na mas kumplikado paraan), kung ano ang nakikita namin ay ang liwanag na nakalarawan off ang isang bagay at iba pa. Ito ay, sa katunayan, hindi naiiba mula sa pandinig ng isang bagay. Ngunit ito kaalaman ng mga mekanismo ng nakikita ay hindi baguhin ang aming natural, commonsense view na iyon kung ano ang nakikita namin ay kung ano ang out doon. Nakakakita ng ay paniniwalang.

Extrapolated mula sa walang muwang bersyon ay ang pagiging totoo pang-agham, kung saan ihinahayag na ang aming pang-agham konsepto ay tunay rin, eventhough maaaring hindi namin direktang perceive ang mga ito. Kaya atoms ay tunay na. Electron ay tunay na. Quarks ay tunay na. Karamihan sa aming mga mas mahusay na mga siyentipiko ang nagkaroon ng may pag-aalinlangan tungkol sa extraploation sa aming paniwala ng kung ano ang tunay na. Einstein, Marahil ang pinakamahusay na ng mga ito, pinaghihinalaang na kahit na espasyo at oras ay maaaring hindi tunay. Feynman at Gell-Mann, pagkatapos ng pagbuo ng teoryang sa mga electron at quarks, ipinahayag kanilang view na mga electron at quarks ay maaaring maging mathematical constructs kaysa sa tunay na mga entity.

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

Comments