看到并相信

当我们打开我们的眼睛,看一些东西, 我们看到,该死的东西. 还有什么能比这更明显, 右边? 比方说,你在看你的狗. 你看到的是真正的你的狗, 因为, 如果你想, 你可以伸手去触摸它. 它吠叫, 你可以听到纬. 如果太臭了一下, 你可以闻到它. 所有这些额外的知觉线索,证实你的信念,你看到的是你的狗. 直接. 不问任何问题.

当然, 我对这个博客的工作就是问问题, 并投疑惑. 首先, 看到感人似乎是从听觉和嗅觉有点不同. 你不严格听听你的狗叫, 你听到它的声音. 同样, 你不直接闻到它, 你闻到异味, 化学线索狗已经离开在空中. 听力和气味有三个地方的看法 — 狗发出声音/气味, 声音/气味传到你, 你感觉到声音/气味.

但看到 (或触摸) 是两个地方的事 — 狗有, 你在这里直接看出来. 这是为什么? 为什么我们觉得,当我们看到或触摸的东西, 我们直接感觉到它? 这种信念在我们所看到的感性真实性称为天真现实主义. 我们当然知道,眼看涉及光 (所以确实感人, 但在一个更复杂的方式), 我们所看到的是光反射的物体等. 这是, 事实上, 从没有听到不同的东西. 但看到的机制,这方面的知识并没有改变我们的自然, 常识认为,我们看到的是什么就在那里. 眼见为实.

从天真的版本外推是科学实在论, 它声称,我们的科学概念,也真实, 定义虽然我们可能无法直接感知它们. 所以原子是真实的. 电子是真实的. 夸克是真正的. 我们的大多数科学家更好地在那里一直对此持怀疑态度extraploation我们对什么是真正的概念. 爱因斯坦, 可能是他们最好的, 怀疑甚至空间和时间可能不是真实. 费曼和盖尔曼, 制定有关电子和夸克理论后, 表达了他们的观点,即电子和夸克可能是数学结构,而不是真正的实体.

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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