标记档案: 形而上学

Everything and Nothing

I once attended a spiritual self-help kind of course. Toward the end of the course, there was this exercise where the teacher would ask the question, “What are you?” Whatever answer the participant came up with, the teacher would tear it apart. 例如, if I said, “I work for a bank as a quantitative finance professional,” she would say, “是啊, that’s what you do, but what are you?” If I said, “I am Manoj,” she would say, “是啊, that’s only your name, what are you?” You get the idea. To the extent that it is a hard question to answer, the teacher always gets the upper hand.

Not in my case though. Luckily for me, I was the last one to answer the question, and I had the benefit of seeing how this exercise evolved. Since I had time, I decided to cook up something substantial. So when my turn came, here was my response that pretty much floored the teacher. I said, “I am a little droplet of consciousness so tiny that I’m nothing, yet part of something so big that I’m everything.” As I surmised, she couldn’t very well say, “是啊, 确定, but what are you?” 事实上, she could’ve said, “That’s just some serious bullshit, 人, what the heck are you?” which is probably what I would’ve done. But my teacher, being the kind and gentle soul she is, decided to thank me gravely and move on.

Now I want to pick up on that theme and point out that there is more to that response than something impressive that I made up that day to sound really cool in front of a bunch of spiritualites. The tininess part is easy. Our station in this universe is so mindbogglingly tiny that a sense of proportion is the one thing we cannot afford to have, if we are to keep our sanity — as Douglas Adams puts it in one of his books. What goes for the physical near-nothingness of our existence in terms of space also applies to the temporal dimension. We exist for a mere fleeing instant when put in the context of any geological or cosmological timescale. So when I called myself a “little” droplet, I was being kind, if anything.

But being part of something so vast — 的, that is the interesting bit. Physically, there is not an atom in my body that wasn’t part of a star somewhere sometime ago. We are all made up of stardust, from the ashes of dead stars. (Interesting they say from dust to dust and from ashes to ashes, isn’t it?) 所以, those sappy scenes in sentimental flicks, where the dad points to the star and says, “Your mother is up there sweetheart, watching over you,” have a bit of scientific truth to them. All the particles in my body will end up in a star (a red giant, in our case); the only stretch is that it will take another four and half billion years. But it does mean that the dust will live forever and end up practically everywhere through some supernova explosion, if our current understanding of how it all works is correct (which it is not, 在我看来, but that is another story). This eternal existence of a the purely physical kind is what Schopenhauer tried to draw consolation from, 我相信, but it really is no consolation, if you ask me. 不过, we are all part of something much bigger, spatially and temporally – in a purely physical sense.

At a deeper level, my being part of everything comes from the fact that we are both the inside and the outside of things. I know it sounds like I smoked something I wouldn’t like my children to smoke. Let me explain; this will take a few words. 你看, when we look at a star, we of course see a star. But what we mean by “see a star” is just that there are some neurons in our brain firing in a particular pattern. We assume that there is a star out there causing some photons to fall on our retina and create neuronal firing, which results in a cognitive model of what we call night sky and stars. We further assume that what we see (night sky and star) is a faithful representation of what is out there. But why should it be? Think of how we hear stuff. When we listen to music, we hear tonality, loudness etc, but these are only cognitive models for the frequency and amplitude of the pressure waves in the air, as we understand sound right now. Frequency and amplitude are very different beasts compared to tonality and loudness — the former are physical causes, the latter are perceptual experiences. Take away the brain, there is no experience, ergo there is no sound — which is the gist of the overused cocktail conundrum of the falling tree in a deserted forest. If you force yourself to think along these lines for a while, you will have to admit that whatever is “out there” as you perceive it is only in your brain as cognitive constructs. Hence my hazy statement about we are both the inside and the outside of things. 所以, from the perspective of cognitive neuroscience, we can argue that we are everything — the whole universe and our knowledge of it is all are patterns in our brain. 有没有别的.

Want to go even deeper? 好, the brain itself is part of the reality (which is a cognitive construct) created by the brain. So are the air pressure waves, photons, retina, 认知神经科学等. All convenient models in our brains. That, 当然, is an infinite regression, from which there is no escape. It is a logical abyss where we can find no rational foothold to anchor our thoughts and crawl out, which naturally leads to what we call the infinite, the unknowable, 绝对, the eternal — Brahman.

I was, 当然, thinking of Brahman ( and the notion that we are all part of that major oneness) when I cooked up that everything-and-nothing response. But it is all the same, isn’t it, whichever way you look at it? 好, may be not; may be it is just that I see it that way. If the only tool you have is a hammer, all the problems in the world look like nails to you. May be I’m just hammering in the metaphysical nails whenever and wherever I get a chance. 对我来说,, all schools of thought seem to converge to similar notions. Reminds of that French girl I was trying impress long time ago. I said to her, rather optimistically, “You know, you and I think alike, that’s what I like about you.” She replied, “好, there is only one way to think, if you think at all. So no big deal!” Needless to say I didn’t get anywhere with her.


After being called one of the 顶 50 philosophy bloggers, I feel almost obliged to write another post on philosophy. This might vex Jat who, while appreciating the post on my first car, was somewhat less than enthusiastic about my deeper thoughts. Also looking askance at my philosophical endeavors would be a badminton buddy of mine who complained that my posts on death scared the bejesus out of him. 但, 我能说什么, I have been listening to a lot of philosophy. I listened to the lectures by Shelly Kagan on just that dreaded topic of death, and by John Searle (再) on the philosophy of mind.

Listening to these lectures filled me with another kind of dread. I realized once again how ignorant I am, and how much there is to know, think and figure out, and how little time is left to do all that. Perhaps this recognition of my ignorance is a sign of growing wisdom, if we can believe Socrates. At least I hope it is.

One thing I had some misconceptions about (or an incomplete understanding of) was this concept of dualism. Growing up in India, I heard a lot about our monistic philosophy called 不二. The word means not-two, and I understood it as the rejection of the Brahman and Maya distinction. 为了用一个例子来说明吧, say you sense something — like you see these words in front of you on your computer screen. Are these words and the computer screen out there really? If I were to somehow generate the neuronal firing patterns that create this sensation in you, you would see these words even if they were not there. This is easy to understand; 毕竟, this is the main thesis of the movie Matrix. So what you see is merely a construct in your brain; it is Maya or part of the Matrix. What is causing the sensory inputs is presumably Brahman. 所以, to me, Advaita meant trusting only the realness of Brahman while rejecting Maya. 现在, after reading a bit more, I’m not sure that was an accurate description at all. Perhaps that is why Ranga criticized me long time ago.

In Western philosophy, there is a different and more obvious kind of dualism. It is the age-old mind-matter distinction. What is mind made of? Most of us think of mind (those who think of it, 就是说) as a computer program running on our brain. 换句话说, mind is software, brain is hardware. They are two different kinds of things. 毕竟, we pay separately for hardware (Dell) and software (Microsoft). Since we think of them as two, ours is an inherently dualistic view. Before the time of computers, Descartes thought of this problem and said there was a mental substance and a physical substance. So this view is called Cartesian Dualism. (顺便说说, Cartesian coordinates in analytic geometry came from Descartes as well — a fact that might enhance our respect for him.) It is a view that has vast ramifications in all branches of philosophy, from metaphysics to theology. It leads to the concepts of spirit and souls, 神, afterlife, reincarnation etc., with their inescapable implications on morality.

There are philosophers who reject this notion of Cartesian dualism. John Searle is one of them. They embrace a view that mind is an emergent property of the brain. An emergent property (more fancily called an epiphenomenon) is something that happens incidentally along with the main phenomenon, but is neither the cause nor the effect of it. An emergent property in physics that we are familiar with is temperature, which is a measure of the average velocity of a bunch of molecules. You cannot define temperature unless you have a statistically significant collection of molecules. Searle uses the wetness of water as his example to illustrate emergence of properties. You cannot have a wet water molecule or a dry one, but when you put a lot of water molecules together you get wetness. 同样, mind emerges from the physical substance of the brain through physical processes. So all the properties that we ascribe to mind are to be explained away as physical interactions. There is only one kind of substance, which is physical. So this monistic philosophy is called physicalism. Physicalism is part of materialism (not to be confused with its current meaning — what we mean by a material girl, 例如).

You know, 该 trouble with philosophy is that there are so many isms that you lose track of what is going on in this wild jungle of jargonism. If I coined the word unrealism to go with my blog and promoted it as a branch of philosophy, or better yet, a Singaporean school of thought, I’m sure I can make it stick. Or perhaps it is already an accepted domain?

All kidding aside, the view that everything on the mental side of life, such as consciousness, thoughts, ideals etc., is a manifestation of physical interactions (I’m restating the definition of physicalism here, as you can see) enjoys certain currency among contemporary philosophers. Both Kagan and Searle readily accept this view, 例如. But this view is in conflict with what the ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle thought. They all believed in some form of continued existence of a mental substance, be it the soul, spirit or whatever. All major religions have some variant of this dualism embedded in their beliefs. (I think Plato’s dualism is of a different kind — a real, imperfect world where we live on the one hand, and an ideal perfect world of forms on the other where the souls and Gods live. More on that later.) 毕竟, God has to be made up of a spiritual “substance” other than a pure physical substance. Or how could he not be subject to the physical laws that we, mere mortals, can comprehend?

Nothing in philosophy is totally disconnected from one another. A fundamental stance such as dualism or monism that you take in dealing with the questions on consciousness, cognition and mind has ramifications in what kind of life you lead (Ethics), how you define reality (Metaphysics), 如何 you know these things (Epistemology). Through its influence on religions, it may even impact our political power struggles of our troubled times. If you think about it long enough, you can connect the dualist/monist distinction even to aesthetics. 毕竟, Richard Pirsig did just that in his 禅与摩托车维修艺术.

As they say, if the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems begin to look like nails. My tool right now is philosophy, so I see little philosophical nails everywhere.


我们知道,我们的宇宙是一个有点不真实. 星星,我们在夜空中看到, 例如, 是不是真的有. 他们可能已移动,甚至通过我们能看到他们的死亡时间. 这需要时间的光从遥远的恒星和星系旅行找到我们. 我们知道这种延迟. 我们现在看到的太阳已经被我们看到它的时候8分钟老, 这是不是一个大问题. 如果我们想知道什么是太阳现在继续, 所有我们需要做的就是等待八分钟. 不过, 我们确实有 “正确” 在我们的感知的延迟,由于光线的有限速度,才可以相信我们所看到的.

现在, 这种效应引发了一个有趣的问题 — 是什么 “实” 我们所看到的东西? 如果 眼见为实, 我们所看到的东西,应该是真实的东西. 然后再, 我们知道光出行时间效应. 因此,我们应该纠正一下,我们相信它之前看到. 那么是什么呢 “看” 意思? 当我们说我们看到的东西, 什么我们真正的意思?

眼看涉及光, 显然. 它是有限 (尽管非常高) 光的影响和速度歪曲我们看待事物的方式, 像看到像星星对象的延迟. 令人惊讶 (而很少强调) 是,当涉及到 看到移动的物体, 我们不能后台计算看不到太阳,我们采取了拖延的方式相同. 如果我们看到一个天体运动以罢课高速, 我们无法弄清楚它是如何快速和方向 “真” 移动未做进一步的假设,. 处理这种困难的一种方法是归于我们感知的扭曲物理学竞技场的基本性质 — 空间和时间. 另一个途径是接受我们的感知和底层之间的断线 “现实” 并处理它以某种方式.

我们看到的是什么了没有不知道的许多思想哲学流派之间的这种脱节. 现象学, 例如, 认为,空间和时间是不客观的现实. 他们只是我们的感知中. 所有这一切发生在时间和空间的现象仅仅是捆绑了我们的看法. 换句话说, 空间和时间是从知觉所产生的认知结构. 因此,, 所有我们所归诸于空间和时间的物理特性只适用于以惊人的现实 (当我们感觉到它的现实). 本体的现实 (持有我们的感知的物理原因), 相比之下, 仍超出了我们的认知范围.

一, 几乎是偶然, 很难重新定义为光的空间和时间属性的有限速度的影响是,我们明白任何影响被迅速转移到光幻想的境界. 例如, 在看到太阳的八分钟的延迟, 因为我们可以很容易地理解和使用简单的算术,从我们的看法是撇清, 被认为是单纯的错觉. 然而, 在我们的观念中快速移动的物体扭曲, 尽管源自同一源被认为是空间和时间的属性,因为它们是更复杂. 在一些点, 我们必须达成协议的事实,当谈到看到宇宙, 有没有这样的事,作为一个错觉, 这也许正是歌德指出,当他说, “错觉是光的真理。”

More about The Unreal Universe的区别 (或缺乏) 光学幻觉和真实之间,在哲学最古老的话题之一. 毕竟, 它是关于知识与现实之间的区别. 知识被认为是我们认为对的东西,, 在现实中, 是 “其实并非如此。” 换句话说, 知识是一种体现, 或外部的东西精神的形象. 在这张照片, 外部的现实经历成为我们的知识的过程, 其中包括感知, 认知活动, 并实行纯粹理性. 这是图片物理学已经接受. 虽然承认了我们的看法可能是不完美的, 物理学假设,我们可以打通越来越精细的实验密切的外部现实, 和, 更重要的是, 通过更好的理论化. 相对论的特殊和一般的理论是这一观点的现实在那里简单的物理原理,采用纯理性的强大机器的逻辑必然的结论,不懈地追求绚丽的应用实例.

但还有另一种, 知识和现实竞争的观点已经存在了很长一段时间. 这是关于感知的现实,我们的感官输入的内部认知表示看法. 在此视图中, 知识和感知的现实是内部认知结构, 虽然我们都来把它们作为单独的. 什么是外部并不现实,因为我们认为它, 但一个不可知的实体后面感觉输入的物理原因引起. 在这所学校的思想, 我们有两种建立我们的现实, 经常重叠, 步骤. 所述第一步骤包括感测方法的, 而第二个是,认知和逻辑推理. 我们可以把这个观点的现实和知识的科学, 但为了做到, 大家纷纷猜测绝对现实的本质, 不可知的,因为它是.

上述这两种不同的哲学立场的影响是巨大的. 由于现代物理学已经接受了时间和空间的非现象学观点, 它发现自己不符合哲学的一个分支,. 哲学和物理学之间的鸿沟已经发展到这种程度,诺贝尔得奖物理学家, 史蒂芬温伯格, 想知道 (在他的书 “终极理论之梦”) 为什么从哲学到物理学的贡献一直这么小得惊人. 这也提示哲学家做出类似声明, “无论是“本体的现实导致惊人的现实’ 还是“本体的现实是独立于我们的感知它’ 还是“我们感觉到现实的本体,’ 问题仍然是本体现实的概念,是一个完全冗余的概念,科学的分析。”

从认知神经科学的角度, 我们看到的一切, 感, 感受和思考,是我们大脑中的神经元相互联系和微小的电信号在他们的结果. 这种观点一定是正确的. 还有什么? 我们所有的思念与牵挂, 知识和信仰, 自我与现实, 生死 — 一切都在一个仅仅纹状体神经元半公斤糊糊, 我们称我们的大脑的灰色物质. 有没有别的. 无!

事实上, 这种观点实际上在神经科学的现象主义的确切回音, 它认为一切都感觉或心理构造的包. 空间和时间也认知结构在我们的大脑, 和其他事物一样. 他们是精神的图片我们的大脑编造出来的,我们的感官接收感觉输入. 从我们的感官知觉产生,我们的认知过程制造, 时空连续体是物理学的舞台. 我们所有的感官, 眼前是目前占主导地位. 感官输入映入眼帘的是光. 在由大脑创造出来的光落在我们的视网膜空间 (或在哈勃望远镜的光传感器), 这是一个惊喜,没有什么能比光速?

这个哲学立场是我的书的基础, 虚幻宇宙, 它探讨了共同的线索结合物理学和哲学. 这样的哲学沉思通常会得到来自美国物理学家一个坏名声. 物理学家, 哲学是一个完全不同的领域, 知识的另一种筒仓, 它拥有无以他们的努力相关性. 我们需要改变这个信念,欣赏不同的知识孤岛之间的重叠. 正是在这种重叠,我们可以期望找到在人类思想的重大突破.

扭曲光线和现实的故事是,我们似乎已经知道这一切很长一段时间. 古典哲学流派似乎已经沿着线非常相似,爱因斯坦的思想推理. 光在创造我们的现实,还是宇宙中的角色是西方宗教思想的心脏. 宇宙缺乏光线的不只是您已经关掉了灯的世界. 这的确是一个宇宙缺乏自身, 一个不存在的宇宙. 正是在这种背景下,我们必须明白的声明背后的智慧 “该地是, 和无效的” 直到神使光线是, 说 “要有光。”

可兰经也说, “真主是天地之光,” 这是反映在古印度的著作之一: “从黑暗走向光明带领我, 从虚幻到真实带领我。” 光从虚幻的虚空把我们的角色 (虚无) 以现实确实理解了很长, 很久. 难道古代的圣人和先知知道的事情,我们现在才开始发现我们所有的知识应该进步?

我知道我可能会急于在天使不敢涉足, 对于重新诠释经文是一个危险的游戏. 这种外来的解释很少欢迎在神学界. 不过,我投靠的是,我要找同意灵性哲学的形而上学的观点, 而不削弱其神秘和神学的价值.

在现象论和本体的,显着的区别之间的相似之处 婆罗门玛雅 区别 不二 难以忽视. 现实上,从精神的剧目自然这个经过时间考验的智慧正在重塑现代神经科学, 它把现实,由大脑产生一种认知表征. 大脑使用感觉输入, 内存, 意识, 甚至语言成分在炮制我们的​​现实感. 这种观点的现实, 然而,, 是物理的东西是没有来的条款. 但是在某种程度上,它的舞台 (空间和时间) 是现实的一部分, 物理学是不能幸免的哲学.

由于我们的知识的界限推向越走越, 我们开始发现人类努力的不同分支之间迄今没有料​​到,常常令人惊讶的互连. 在最后的分析, 怎么能对我们知识的不同领域是相互独立的,当我们所有的知识存在于我们的大脑? 知识是我们的经验认知表征. 但随后, 这样的现实; 这是我们的感官投入认知表征. 这是一个谬论认为知识是一个外部的现实我们的内部表示, 因此,与此不同的. 知识和现实是内部认知结构, 虽然我们都来把它们作为单独的.


Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow

I first found this modern-day classic in my father’s collection some thirty years ago, which meant that he bought it right around the time it was published. 反观现在, and after having read the book, as usual, many times over, I am surprised that he had actually read it. May be I am underestimating him in my colossal and unwarranted arrogance, but I just cannot see how he could have followed the book. Even after having lived in the USA for half a dozen years, and read more philosophy than is good for me, I cannot keep up with the cultural references and the pace of Charlie Citrine’s mind through its intellectual twists and turns. Did my father actually read it? í wish I could ask him.

Perhaps that is the point of this book, as it is with most classics — the irreversibility and finality of death. Or may be it is my jaundiced vision painting everything yellow. But Bellow does rage against this finality of death (just like most religions do); he comically postulates that it is our metaphysical denial that hides the immortal souls watching over us. Perhaps he is right; it certainly is comforting to believe it.

There is always an element of parternality in every mentor-protégé relationship. (Forgive me, I know it is a sexist view — why not maternality?) But I probably started this post with the memories of my father because of this perceived element in the Von Humboldt Fleischer – Charlie Citrine relationship, complete with the associated feelings of guilt and remorse on the choices that had to be made.

As a book, Humboldt’s Gift is a veritable tour de force. It is a blinding blitz of erudition and wisdom, coming at you at a pace and intensity that is hard to stand up to. It talks about the painted veil, Maya, the many colored glasses staining the white radiance of eternity, and Hegel’s phenomenology as though they are like coffee and cheerios. 对我来说,, this dazzling display of intellectual fireworks is unsettling. I get a glimpse of the enormity of what is left to know, and the paucity of time left to learn it, and I worry. It is the ultimate 第二十二条军规 — by the time you figure it all out, it is time to go, and the knowledge is useless. Perhaps knowledge has always been useless in that sense, but it is still a lot of fun to figure things out.

The book is a commentary on American materialism and the futility of idealism in our modern times. It is also about the small things where a heart finds fulfillment. Here is the setting of the story in a nutshell. Charlie Citrine, a protégé to Von Humboldt Fleischer, makes it big in his literary career. Fleischer himself, full of grandiose schemes for a cultural renaissance in America, dies a failure. Charlie’s success comes at its usual price. In an ugly divorce, his vulturous ex-wife, Denise, tries to milk him for every penny he’s worth. His mercenary mistress and a woman-and-a-half, Renata, targets his riches from other angles. Then there is the boisterous Cantabile who is ultimately harmless, and the affable and classy Thaxter who is much more damaging. The rest of the story follows some predictable, and some surprising twists. Storylines are something I stay away from in my reviews, for I don’t want to be posting spoilers.

I am sure there is a name for this style of narration that jumps back and forth in time with no regard to chronology. I first noticed it in 第二十二条军规 and recently in Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things. It always fills me with a kind of awe because the writer has the whole story in mind, and is revealing aspects of it at will. It is like showing different projections of a complex object. This style is particularly suited for Humboldt’s Gift, because it is a complex object like a huge diamond, and the different projections show brilliant flashes of insights. Staining the white radiance of eternity, 当然.

To say that Humboldt’s Gift is a masterpiece is like saying that sugar is sweet. It goes without saying. I will read this book many more times in the future because of its educational values (and because I love the reader in my audiobook edition). I would not necessarily recommend the book to others though. I think it takes a peculiar mind, one that finds sanity only in insane gibberish, and sees unreality in all the painted veils of reality, to appreciate this book.

简而言之, you have to be a bit cuckoo to like it. 但, by the same convoluted logic, this negative recommendation is perhaps the strongest endorsement of all. So here goes… Don’t read it. I forbid it!

虚幻宇宙 – Reviewed


pback-cover (17K)新加坡国立报纸, 海峡时报, 称赞中使用的可读性和谈话风格 虚幻宇宙 并建议它给任何人谁想要了解生活, 宇宙和一切.


调用 虚幻宇宙 一个良好的阅读, 温迪说:, “它写得很好, 很清楚地遵循了非专业。”


描述 虚幻宇宙 如 “这样的洞察力和智慧的书,” 伯比说:, “一本书外行思维, 本可读, 耐人寻味的工作提供了我们的现实定义一个新的视角。”

M. Š. Chandramouli

M. Š. Chandramouli graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in 1966 and subsequently did his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. After an executive career in India and Europe covering some 28 years he founded Surya International in Belgium through which he now offers business development and industrial marketing services.

Here is what he says about 虚幻宇宙:

“The book has a very pleasing layout, with the right size of font and line spacing and correct content density. Great effort for a self-published book!”

“The impact of the book is kaleidoscopic. The patterns in one reader’s mind (mine, 就是说) shifted and re-arranged themselves with a ‘rustling noise’ more than once.””The author’s writing style is remarkably equidistant from the turgid prose of Indians writing on philosophy or religion and the we-know-it-all style of Western authors on the philosophy of science.”

“There is a sort of cosmic, background ‘Eureka!’ that seems to suffuse the entire book. Its central thesis about the difference between perceived reality and absolute reality is an idea waiting to bloom in a million minds.”

“The test on the ‘Emotionality of Faith,’ Page 171, was remarkably prescient; it worked for me!”

“I am not sure that the first part, which is essentially descriptive and philosophical, sits comfortably with the second part with its tightly-argued physics; if and when the author is on his way to winning the argument, he may want to look at three different categories of readers – the lay but intelligent ones who need a degree of ‘translation,’ the non-physicist specialist, and the physicist philosophers. Market segmentation is the key to success.”

“I think this book needs to be read widely. I am making a small attempt at plugging it by copying this to my close friends.”

Steven Bryant

Steven is a Vice President of Consulting Services for Primitive Logic, a premier Regional Systems Integrator located in San Francisco, California. He is the author of The Relativity Challenge.

“Manoj views science as just one element in the picture of life. Science does not define life. But life colors how we understand science. He challenges all readers to rethink their believe systems, to question what they thought was real, to ask “why”? He asks us to take off our “rose colored glasses” and unlock new ways of experiencing and understanding life. This thought provoking work should be required reading to anyone embarking on a new scientific journey.”

“Manoj’s treatment of time is very thought provoking. While each of our other senses – sight, 声音, smell, taste and touch – are multi-dimensional, time appears to be single dimensional. Understanding the interplay of time with our other senses is a very interesting puzzle. It also opens to door to the existence possibilities of other phenomena beyond our know sensory range.”

“Manoj’s conveys a deep understanding of the interaction of our physics, human belief systems, perceptions, experiences, and even our languages, on how we approach scientific discovery. His work will challenge you to rethink what you think you know is true.”

“Manoj offers a unique perspective on science, 感悟, and reality. The realization that science does not lead to perception, but perception leads to science, is key to understanding that all scientific “facts” are open for re-exploration. This book is extremely thought provoking and challenges each reader the question their own beliefs.”

“Manoj approaches physics from a holistic perspective. Physics does not occur in isolation, but is defined in terms of our experiences – both scientific and spiritual. As you explore his book you’ll challenge your own beliefs and expand your horizons.”

Blogs and Found Online

From the Blog Through The Looking Glass

“This book is considerably different from other books in its approach to philosophy and physics. It contains numerous practical examples on the profound implications of our philosophical viewpoint on physics, specifically astrophysics and particle physics. Each demonstration comes with a mathematical appendix, which includes a more rigorous derivation and further explanation. The book even reins in diverse branches of philosophy (e.g. thinking from both the East and the West, and both the classical period and modern contemporary philosophy). And it is gratifying to know that all the mathematics and physics used in the book are very understandable, and thankfully not graduate level. That helps to make it much easier to appreciate the book.”

From the Hub Pages

Calling itself “An Honest Review of 虚幻宇宙,” this review looks like the one used in 海峡时报.

I got a few reviews from my readers through email and online forums. I have compiled them as anonymous reviews in the next page of this post.

Click on the link below to visit the second page.

虚幻宇宙 — Seeing Light in Science and Spirituality

我们知道,我们的宇宙是一个有点不真实. 星星,我们在夜空中看到, 例如, 是不是真的有. 他们可能已移动,甚至通过我们能看到他们的死亡时间. 这种延迟是由于需要为光从遥远的恒星和星系的时间到达我们. 我们知道这种延迟.

The same delay in seeing has a lesser known manifestation in the way we perceive moving objects. It distorts our perception such that something coming towards us would look as though it is coming in faster. Strange as it may sound, this effect has been observed in astrophysical studies. Some of the heavenly bodies do look as though they are moving several times the speed of light, while their “实” speed is probably a lot lower.

现在, 这种效应引发了一个有趣的问题–是什么 “实” speed? 如果眼见为实, the speed we see should be the real speed. 然后再, 我们知道光出行时间效应. So we should correct the speed we see before believing it. 那么是什么呢 “看” 意思? 当我们说我们看到的东西, 什么我们真正的意思?

Light in Physics

眼看涉及光, 显然. The finite speed of light influences and distorts the way we see things. This fact should hardly come as a surprise because we do know that things are not as we see them. The sun that we see is already eight minutes old by the time we see it. 这种延迟并不是什么大不了的事; 如果我们想知道现在是怎么回事太阳, 所有我们需要做的就是等待八分钟. We, nonetheless, have to “正确” 对于因光线的有限速度的扭曲,我们的看法,我们才可以相信我们所看到的.

令人惊讶 (而很少强调) 是当涉及到​​敏感的议案, 我们不能后台计算看不到太阳,我们采取了拖延的方式相同. 如果我们看到一个天体运动以罢课高速, 我们无法弄清楚它是如何快速和方向 “真” 移动未做进一步的假设,. 处理这种困难的一种方法是归于我们感知的扭曲物理学竞技场的基本性质 — 空间和时间. 另一个途径是接受我们的感知和底层之间的断线 “现实” 并处理它以某种方式.

Einstein chose the first route. In his groundbreaking paper over a hundred years ago, he introduced the special theory of relativity, in which he attributed the manifestations of the finite speed of light to the fundamental properties of space and time. One core idea in special relativity (SR) is that the notion of simultaneity needs to be redefined because it takes some time for light from an event at a distant place to reach us, and we become aware of the event. The concept of “现在” doesn’t make much sense, as we saw, when we speak of an event happening in the sun, 例如. 同时性是相对的.

Einstein defined simultaneity using the instants in time we detect the event. 检测, 他将其定义, involves a round-trip travel of light similar to Radar detection. We send out light, and look at the reflection. If the reflected light from two events reaches us at the same instant, they are simultaneous.
Another way of defining simultaneity is using sensing — we can call two events simultaneous if the light from them reaches us at the same instant. 换句话说, we can use the light generated by the objects under observation rather than sending light to them and looking at the reflection.

这种差异可能听起来像一个吹毛求疵的技术性, but it does make an enormous difference in the predictions we can make. 爱因斯坦的选择,导致有许多理想特性的数学图片, thereby making further development elegant.

The other possibility has an advantage when it comes to describing objects in motion because it corresponds better with how we measure them. We don’t use Radar to see the stars in motion; 我们仅仅感测的光 (或其他辐射) 他们来了. But this choice of using a sensory paradigm, rather than Radar-like detection, to describe the universe results in a slightly uglier mathematical picture.

在数学上的差异派生不同的哲学立场, 这反过来渗透到现实我们的物理图像的理解. 作为例证的, let us look at an example from astrophysics. Suppose we observe (通过射电望远镜, 例如) 在天空中的两个对象, roughly of the same shape and properties. The only thing we know for sure is that the radio waves from two different points in the sky reach the radio telescope at the same instant in time. We can guess that the waves started their journey quite a while ago.

For symmetric objects, if we assume (因为我们经常做的) 该波开始的旅程大致在同一时刻, we end up with a picture of two “实” 对称的叶片或多或少的方式看到它们.

But there is different possibility that the waves originated from the same object (这是在运动) 在两个时间不同的时刻, 在同一时刻到达望远镜. This possibility explains some spectral and temporal properties of such symmetric radio sources, which is what I mathematically described in a recent physics article. 现在, which of these two pictures should we take as real? 两个对称的物体,因为我们看到他们或一个物体以这样的方式移动,就好像给我们的印象? Does it really matter which one is “实”? Does “实” 意味着在这方面的任何?

The philosophical stance in implied in special relativity answers this question unequivocally. There is an unambiguous physical reality from which we get the two symmetric radio sources, although it takes a bit of mathematical work to get to it. 数学排除了移动以这样的方式单一对象的可能性,以模拟的两个对象. 从本质, 我们看到的是什么就在那里.

另一方面, if we define simultaneity using concurrent arrival of light, we will be forced to admit the exact opposite. What we see is pretty far from what is out there. We will confess that we cannot unambiguously decouple the distortions due to the constraints in perception (the finite speed of light being the constraint of interest here) from what we see. There are multiple physical realities that can result in the same perceptual picture. The only philosophical stance that makes sense is the one that disconnects the sensed reality and the causes behind what is being sensed.

这种脱节的情况并不少见思想的哲学流派. 现象学, 例如, 认为,空间和时间是不客观的现实. 他们只是我们的感知中. 所有这一切发生在时间和空间的现象仅仅是捆绑了我们的看法. 换句话说, 空间和时间是从知觉所产生的认知结构. 因此,, 所有我们所归诸于空间和时间的物理特性只适用于以惊人的现实 (当我们感觉到它的现实). 本体的现实 (持有我们的感知的物理原因), 相比之下, 仍超出了我们的认知范围.

The ramifications of the two different philosophical stances described above are tremendous. Since modern physics seems to embrace a non-phenomenalistic view of space and time, 它发现自己不符合哲学的一个分支,. 哲学和物理学之间的鸿沟已经发展到这种程度,诺贝尔得奖物理学家, 史蒂芬温伯格, 想知道 (在他的书 “终极理论之梦”) 为什么从哲学到物理学的贡献一直这么小得惊人. 这也提示哲学家做出类似声明, “无论是“本体的现实导致惊人的现实’ 还是“本体的现实是独立于我们的感知它’ 还是“我们感觉到现实的本体,’ 问题仍然是本体现实的概念,是一个完全冗余的概念,科学的分析。”

一, 几乎是偶然, 很难重新定义为光的空间和时间属性的有限速度的影响是,我们明白任何影响被迅速转移到光幻想的境界. 例如, 在看到太阳的八分钟的延迟, because we readily understand it and disassociate from our perception using simple arithmetic, 被认为是单纯的错觉. 然而, 在我们的观念中快速移动的物体扭曲, 尽管源自同一源被认为是空间和时间的属性,因为它们是更复杂.

We have to come to terms with the fact that when it comes to seeing the universe, 有没有这样的事,作为一个错觉, 这也许正是歌德指出,当他说, “错觉是光的真理。”

的区别 (或缺乏) 光学幻觉和真实之间,在哲学最古老的话题之一. 毕竟, 它是关于知识与现实之间的区别. 知识被认为是我们认为对的东西,, 在现实中, 是 “其实并非如此。” 换句话说, 知识是一种体现, 或外部的东西精神的形象, 如下面的图中.
Commonsense view of reality
在这张照片, 黑色箭头表示创造知识的过程, 其中包括感知, 认知活动, 并实行纯粹理性. 这是图片物理学已经接受.
Alternate view of reality
虽然承认了我们的看法可能是不完美的, 物理学假设,我们可以打通越来越精细的实验密切的外部现实, 和, 更重要的是, 通过更好的理论化. 相对论的特殊和一般的理论是这一观点的现实的辉煌应用例子,简单的物理原理是使用纯粹理性强大的机器的逻辑必然的结论,不懈地追求.

但还有另一种, 知识与现实的另一种观点认为已经存在了很长一段时间. 这是关于感知的现实,我们的感官输入的内部认知表示看法, 如下图所示.

在此视图中, 知识和感知的现实是内部认知结构, 虽然我们都来把它们作为单独的. 什么是外部并不现实,因为我们认为它, 但一个不可知的实体后面感觉输入的物理原因引起. 在图示的例子, 第一个箭头表示的感测的过程, 和第二箭头表示认知和逻辑推理步骤. 为了应用这一观点的现实和知识, 大家纷纷猜测绝对现实的本质, 不可知的,因为它是. 一个可能的候选人绝对现实是牛顿力学, 这给出了一个合理的预测为我们感知的现实.

总结, 当我们试图处理由于认知的扭曲, 我们有两个选择, 两个可能的哲学立场. 一种是接受的失真作为我们的空间和时间的一部分, as SR does. The other option is to assume that there is a “更高” 实际上从我们检测到的现实截然不同, 其属性,我们只能猜想. 换句话说, 一种选择是住在一起的失真, 而另一种是提出​​的猜测为更高的现实. Neither of these options is particularly attractive. 但猜测路径是相似的接受现象论的观点. 这也导致自然如何现实认知神经科学观察, 它研究的认知背后的生物学机制.

In my view, the two options are not inherently distinct. The philosophical stance of SR can be thought of as coming from a deep understanding that space is merely a phenomenal construct. If the sense modality introduces distortions in the phenomenal picture, we may argue that one sensible way of handling it is to redefine the properties of the phenomenal reality.

Role of Light in Our Reality

从认知神经科学的角度, 我们看到的一切, 感, 感受和思考,是我们大脑中的神经元相互联系和微小的电信号在他们的结果. 这种观点一定是正确的. 还有什么? 我们所有的思念与牵挂, 知识和信仰, 自我与现实, 生死 — 一切都在一个仅仅纹状体神经元半公斤糊糊, 我们称我们的大脑的灰色物质. 有没有别的. 无!

事实上, 这种观点实际上在神经科学的现象主义的确切回音, 它认为一切都感觉或心理构造的包. 空间和时间也认知结构在我们的大脑, 和其他事物一样. 他们是精神的图片我们的大脑编造出来的,我们的感官接收感觉输入. 从我们的感官知觉产生,我们的认知过程制造, 时空连续体是物理学的舞台. 我们所有的感官, 眼前是目前占主导地位. 感官输入映入眼帘的是光. 在由大脑创造出来的光落在我们的视网膜空间 (或在哈勃望远镜的光传感器), 这是一个惊喜,没有什么能比光速?

这个哲学立场是我的书的基础, 虚幻宇宙, 它探讨了共同的线索结合物理学和哲学. 这样的哲学沉思通常会得到来自美国物理学家一个坏名声. 物理学家, 哲学是一个完全不同的领域, 知识的另一种筒仓. 我们需要改变这个信念,欣赏不同的知识孤岛之间的重叠. It is in this overlap that we can expect to find breakthroughs in human thought.

This philosophical grand-standing may sound presumptuous and the veiled self-admonition of physicists understandably unwelcome; but I am holding a trump card. Based on this philosophical stance, I have come up with a radically new model for two astrophysical phenomena, and published it in an article titled, “为无线电源和伽玛射线暴管腔围油栏?” in the well-known International Journal of Modern Physics D in June 2007. This article, which soon became one of the top accessed articles of the journal by Jan 2008, is a direct application of the view that the finite speed of light distorts the way we perceive motion. Because of these distortions, the way we see things is a far cry from the way they are.

We may be tempted to think that we can escape such perceptual constraints by using technological extensions to our senses such as radio telescopes, electron microscopes or spectroscopic speed measurements. 毕竟, these instruments do not have “感悟” per se and should be immune to the human weaknesses we suffer from. But these soulless instruments also measure our universe using information carriers limited to the speed of light. We, 因此, cannot escape the basic constraints of our perception even when we use modern instruments. 换句话说, the Hubble telescope may see a billion light years farther than our naked eyes, but what it sees is still a billion years older than what our eyes see.

Our reality, whether technologically enhanced or built upon direct sensory inputs, is the end result of our perceptual process. To the extent that our long range perception is based on light (and is therefore limited to its speed), we get only a distorted picture of the universe.

Light in Philosophy and Spirituality

扭曲光线和现实的故事是,我们似乎已经知道这一切很长一段时间. Classical philosophical schools seem to have thought along lines very similar to Einstein’s thought experiment.

Once we appreciate the special place accorded to light in modern science, we have to ask ourselves how different our universe would have been in the absence of light. 当然, light is only a label we attach to a sensory experience. 因此,, to be more accurate, we have to ask a different question: if we did not have any senses that responded to what we call light, would that affect the form of the universe?

The immediate answer from any normal (就是说, non-philosophical) person is that it is obvious. If everybody is blind, everybody is blind. But the existence of the universe is independent of whether we can see it or not. Is it though? What does it mean to say the universe exists if we cannot sense it? Ah… the age-old conundrum of the falling tree in a deserted forest. Remember, the universe is a cognitive construct or a mental representation of the light input to our eyes. It is not “out there,” but in the neurons of our brain, as everything else is. In the absence of light in our eyes, there is no input to be represented, ergo no universe.

If we had sensed the universe using modalities that operated at other speeds (echolocation, 例如), it is those speeds that would have figured in the fundamental properties of space and time. This is the inescapable conclusion from phenomenalism.

光在创造我们的现实,还是宇宙中的角色是西方宗教思想的心脏. 宇宙缺乏光线的不只是您已经关掉了灯的世界. 这的确是一个宇宙缺乏自身, 一个不存在的宇宙. 正是在这种背景下,我们必须明白的声明背后的智慧 “该地是, 和无效的” 直到神使光线是, 说 “要有光。”

可兰经也说, “真主是天地之光,” 这是反映在古印度的著作之一: “从黑暗走向光明带领我, 从虚幻到真实带领我。” 光从虚幻的虚空把我们的角色 (虚无) 以现实确实理解了很长, 很久. 难道古代的圣人和先知知道的事情,我们现在才开始发现我们所有的知识应该进步?

我知道我可能会急于在天使不敢涉足, 对于重新诠释经文是一个危险的游戏. Such foreign interpretations are seldom welcome in the theological circles. 不过,我投靠的是,我要找同意灵性哲学的形而上学的观点, without diminishing their mystical or theological value.

The parallels between the noumenal-phenomenal distinction in phenomenalism and the Brahman-Maya distinction in Advaita are hard to ignore. This time-tested wisdom on the nature of reality from the repertoire of spirituality is now reinvented in modern neuroscience, 它把现实,由大脑产生一种认知表征. 大脑使用感觉输入, 内存, 意识, 甚至语言成分在炮制我们的​​现实感. 这种观点的现实, 然而,, 是物理的东西是没有来的条款. 但是在某种程度上,它的舞台 (空间和时间) 是现实的一部分, 物理学是不能幸免的哲学.

由于我们的知识的界限推向越走越, 我们开始发现人类努力的不同分支之间迄今没有料​​到,常常令人惊讶的互连. 在最后的分析, 怎么能对我们知识的不同领域是相互独立的,当我们所有的知识存在于我们的大脑? 知识是我们的经验认知表征. 但随后, 这样的现实; 这是我们的感官投入认知表征. 这是一个谬论认为知识是一个外部的现实我们的内部表示, 因此,与此不同的. 知识和现实是内部认知结构, 虽然我们都来把它们作为单独的.

Recognizing and making use of the interconnections among the different domains of human endeavour may be the catalyst for the next breakthrough in our collective wisdom that we have been waiting for.

The Philosophy of Special Relativity — A Comparison between Indian and Western Interpretations

Abstract: The Western philosophical phenomenalism could be treated as a kind of philosophical basis of the special theory of relativity. The perceptual limitations of our senses hold the key to the understanding of relativistic postulates. The specialness of the speed of light in our phenomenal space and time is more a matter of our perceptual apparatus, than an input postulate to the special theory of relativity. The author believes that the parallels among the phenomenological, Western spiritual and the Eastern Advaita interpretations of special relativity point to an exciting possibility of unifying the Eastern and Western schools of thought to some extent.

– Editor

Key Words: Relativity, Speed of Light, 现象学, 不二.


The philosophical basis of the special theory of relativity can be interpreted in terms of Western phenomenalism, which views space and time are considered perceptual and cognitive constructs created out our sensory inputs. From this perspective, the special status of light and its speed can be understood through a phenomenological study of our senses and the perceptual limitations to our phenomenal notions of space and time. A similar view is echoed in the BrahmanMaya 区别 不二. If we think of space and time as part of Maya, we can partly understand the importance that the speed of light in our reality, as enshrined in special relativity. The central role of light in our reality is highlighted in the Bible as well. These remarkable parallels among the phenomenological, Western spiritual and the 不二 interpretations of special relativity point to an exciting possibility of unifying the Eastern and Western schools of thought to a certain degree.

Special Relativity

Einstein unveiled his special theory of relativity2 a little over a century ago. In his theory, he showed that space and time were not absolute entities. They are entities relative to an observer. An observer’s space and time are related to those of another through the speed of light. 例如, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. In a moving system, time flows slower and space contracts in accordance with equations involving the speed of light. Light, 因此, enjoys a special status in our space and time. This specialness of light in our reality is indelibly enshrined in the special theory of relativity.

Where does this specialness come from? What is so special about light that its speed should figure in the basic structure of space and time and our reality? This question has remained unanswered for over 100 年. It also brings in the metaphysical aspects of space and time, which form the basis of what we perceive as reality.

Noumenal-Phenomenal and BrahmanMaya Distinctions

不二3 view of reality, what we perceive is merely an illusion-Maya. 不二 explicitly renounces the notion that the perceived reality is external or indeed real. It teaches us that the phenomenal universe, our conscious awareness of it, and our bodily being are all an illusion or Maya. They are not the true, absolute reality. The absolute reality existing in itself, independent of us and our experiences, 是 Brahman.

A similar view of reality is echoed in phenomenalism,4 which holds that space and time are not objective realities. 他们只是我们的感知中. 在此视图中, all the phenomena that happen in space and time are merely bundles of our perception. Space and time are also cognitive constructs arising from perception. 因此,, the reasons behind all the physical properties that we ascribe to space and time have to be sought in the sensory processes that create our perception, whether we approach the issue from the 不二 or phenomenalism perspective.

This analysis of the importance of light in our reality naturally brings in the metaphysical aspects of space and time. In Kant’s view,5 space and time are pure forms of intuition. They do not arise from our experience because our experiences presuppose the existence of space and time. 因此,, we can represent space and time in the absence of objects, but we cannot represent objects in the absence of space and time.

Kant’s middle-ground has the advantage of reconciling the views of Newton and Leibniz. It can agree with Newton’s view6 that space is absolute and real for phenomenal objects open to scientific investigation. It can also sit well with Leibniz’s view7 that space is not absolute and has an existence only in relation to objects, by highlighting their relational nature, not among objects in themselves (noumenal objects), but between observers and objects.

We can roughly equate the noumenal objects to forms in Brahman and our perception of them to Maya. In this article, we will use the terms “noumenal reality,” “absolute reality,” 或 “physical reality” interchangeably to describe the collection of noumenal objects, their properties and interactions, which are thought to be the underlying causes of our perception. 同样, we will “phenomenal reality,” “perceived or sensed reality,” 和 “perceptual reality” to signify our reality as we perceive it.

As with Brahman causing Maya, we assume that the phenomenal notions of space and time arise from noumenal causes8 through our sensory and cognitive processes. Note that this causality assumption is ad-hoc; there is no a priori reason for phenomenal reality to have a cause, nor is causation a necessary feature of the noumenal reality. Despite this difficulty, we proceed from a naive model for the noumenal reality and show that, through the process of perception, we can “派生” a phenomenal reality that obeys the special theory of relativity.

This attempt to go from the phenomena (空间和时间) to the essence of what we experience (a model for noumenal reality) is roughly in line with Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology.9 The deviation is that we are more interested in the manifestations of the model in the phenomenal reality itself rather than the validity of the model for the essence. Through this study, we show that the specialness of the speed of light in our phenomenal space and time is a consequence of our perceptual apparatus. It doesn’t have to be an input postulate to the special theory of relativity.

Perception and Phenomenal Reality

The properties we ascribe to space and time (such as the specialness of the speed of light) can only be a part of our perceived reality or Maya, 在 不二, not of the underlying absolute reality, Brahman. If we think of space and time as aspects of our perceived reality arising from an unknowable Brahman through our sensory and cognitive processes, we can find an explanation for the special distinction of the speed of light in the process and mechanism of our sensing. Our thesis is that the reason for the specialness of light in our phenomenal notions of space and time is hidden in the process of our perception.

We, 因此, study how the noumenal objects around us generate our sensory signals, and how we construct our phenomenal reality out of these signals in our brains. The first part is already troublesome because noumenal objects, 顾名思义, have no properties or interactions that we can study or understand.

These features of the noumenal reality are identical to the notion of Brahman不二, which highlights that the ultimate truth is Brahman, the one beyond time, space and causation. Brahman is the material cause of the universe, but it transcends the cosmos. It transcends time; it exists in the past, present and future. It transcends space; it has no beginning, middle and end. It even transcends causality. For that reason, Brahman is incomprehensible to the human mind. The way it manifests to us is through our sensory and cognitive processes. This manifestation is Maya, the illusion, 哪, in the phenomenalistic parlance, corresponds to the phenomenal reality.

For our purpose in this article, we describe our sensory and cognitive process and the creation of the phenomenal reality or Maya10 as follows. It starts with the noumenal objects (or forms in Brahman), which generate the inputs to our senses. Our senses then process the signals and relay the processed electric data corresponding to them to our brain. The brain creates a cognitive model, a representation of the sensory inputs, and presents it to our conscious awareness as reality, which is our phenomenal world or Maya.

This description of how the phenomenal reality created ushers in a tricky philosophical question. Who or what creates the phenomenal reality and where? It is not created by our senses, brain and mind because these are all objects or forms in the phenomenal reality. The phenomenal reality cannot create itself. It cannot be that the noumenal reality creates the phenomenal reality because, in that case, it would be inaccurate to assert the cognitive inaccessibility to the noumenal world.

This philosophical trouble is identical in 不二 以及. Our senses, brain and mind cannot create Maya, because they are all part of Maya. 如果 Brahman created Maya, it would have to be just as real. This philosophical quandary can be circumvented in the following way. We assume that all events and objects in Maya have a cause or form in Brahman or in the noumenal world. 因此,, we postulate that our senses, mind and body all have some (unknown) forms in Brahman (or in the noumenal world), and these forms create Maya in our conscious awareness, ignoring the fact that our consciousness itself is an illusory manifestation in the phenomenal world. This inconsistency is not material to our exploration into the nature of space and time because we are seeking the reason for the specialness of light in the sensory process rather than at the level of consciousness.

Space and time together form what physics considers the basis of reality. Space makes up our visual reality precisely as sounds make up our auditory world. Just as sounds are a perceptual experience rather than a fundamental property of physical reality, space also is an experience, or a cognitive representation of the visual inputs, not a fundamental aspect of Brahman or the noumenal reality. The phenomenal reality thus created is Maya. 该 Maya events are an imperfect or distorted representation of the corresponding Brahman events. 自 Brahman is a superset of Maya (或, equivalently, our senses are potentially incapable of sensing all aspects of the noumenal reality), not all objects and events in Brahman create a projection in Maya. Our perception (或 Maya) is thus limited because of the sense modality and its speed, which form the focus of our investigation in this article.

In summary, it can be argued that the noumenal-phenomenal distinction in phenomenalism is an exact parallel to the BrahmanMaya 区别 不二 if we think of our perceived reality (或 Maya) as arising from sensory and cognitive processes.

Sensing Space and Time, and the Role of Light

The phenomenal notions of space and time together form what physics considers the basis of reality. Since we take the position that space and time are the end results of our sensory perception, we can understand some of the limitations in our Maya by studying the limitations in our senses themselves.

At a fundamental level, how do our senses work? Our sense of sight operates using light, and the fundamental interaction involved in sight falls in the electromagnetic (EM) category because light (or photon) is the intermediary of EM interactions.11

The exclusivity of EM interaction is not limited to our long-range sense of sight; all the short-range senses (touch, taste, smell and hearing) are also EM in nature. In physics, the fundamental interactions are modeled as fields with gauge bosons.12 In quantum electrodynamics13 (the quantum field theory of EM interactions), photon (or light) is the gauge boson mediating EM interactions. Electromagnetic interactions are responsible for all our sensory inputs. To understand the limitations of our perception of space, we need not highlight the EM nature of all our senses. Space is, 大体上, the result of our sight sense. But it is worthwhile to keep in mind that we would have no sensing, and indeed no reality, in the absence of EM interactions.

Like our senses, all our technological extensions to our senses (such as radio telescopes, electron microscopes, red shift measurements and even gravitational lensing) use EM interactions exclusively to measure our universe. 因此,, we cannot escape the basic constraints of our perception even when we use modern instruments. The Hubble telescope may see a billion light years farther than our naked eyes, but what it sees is still a billion years older than what our eyes see. Our phenomenal reality, whether built upon direct sensory inputs or technologically enhanced, is made up of a subset of EM particles and interactions only. What we perceive as reality is a subset of forms and events in the noumenal world corresponding to EM interactions, filtered through our sensory and cognitive processes. 在 不二 parlance, Maya can be thought of as a projection of Brahman through EM interactions into our sensory and cognitive space, quite probably an imperfect projection.

The exclusivity of EM interactions in our perceived reality is not always appreciated, mainly because of a misconception that we can sense gravity directly. This confusion arises because our bodies are subject to gravity. There is a fine distinction between “being subject to” 和 “being able to sense” gravitational force. The gravity sensing in our ears measures the effect of gravity on EM matter. In the absence of EM interaction, it is impossible to sense gravity, or anything else for that matter.

This assertion that there is no sensing in the absence of EM interactions brings us to the next philosophical hurdle. One can always argue that, in the absence of EM interaction, there is no matter to sense. This argument is tantamount to insisting that the noumenal world consists of only those forms and events that give rise to EM interaction in our phenomenal perception. 换句话说, it is the same as insisting that Brahman is made up of only EM interactions. What is lacking in the absence of EM interaction is only our phenomenal reality. 在 不二 notion, in the absence of sensing, Maya does not exist. The absolute reality or Brahman, 然而,, is independent of our sensing it. 同样, we see that the Eastern and Western views on reality we explored in this article are remarkably similar.

The Speed of Light

Knowing that our space-time is a representation of the light waves our eyes receive, we can immediately see that light is indeed special in our reality. In our view, sensory perception leads to our brain’s representation that we call reality, 或 Maya. Any limitation in this chain of sensing leads to a corresponding limitation in our phenomenal reality.

One limitation in the chain from senses to perception is the finite speed of photon, which is the gauge boson of our senses. The finite speed of the sense modality influences and distorts our perception of motion, 空间和时间. Because these distortions are perceived as a part of our reality itself, the root cause of the distortion becomes a fundamental property of our reality. This is how the speed of light becomes such an important constant in our space-time.

The importance of the speed of light, 然而,, is respected only in our phenomenal Maya. Other modes of perception have other speeds the figure as the fundamental constant in their space-like perception. The reality sensed through echolocation, 例如, has the speed of sound as a fundamental property. 事实上, it is fairly simple to establish14 that echolocation results in a perception of motion that obeys something very similar to special relativity with the speed of light replaced with that of sound.

Theories beyond Sensory Limits

The basis of physics is the world view called scientific realism, which is not only at the core of sciences but is our natural way of looking at the world as well. Scientific realism, and hence physics, assume an independently existing external world, whose structures are knowable through scientific investigations. To the extent observations are based on perception, the philosophical stance of scientific realism, as it is practiced today, can be thought of as a trust in our perceived reality, and as an assumption that it is this reality that needs to be explored in science.

Physics extends its reach beyond perception or Maya through the rational element of pure theory. Most of physics works in this “extended” intellectual reality, with concepts such as fields, forces, light rays, 原子, 颗粒, 等等。, the existence of which is insisted upon through the metaphysical commitment implied in scientific realism. 然而, it does not claim that the rational extensions are the noumenal causes or Brahman giving raise to our phenomenal perception.

Scientific realism has helped physics tremendously, with all its classical theories. 然而, scientific realism and the trust in our perception of reality should apply only within the useful ranges of our senses. Within the ranges of our sensory perceptions, we have fairly intuitive physics. An example of an intuitive picture is Newtonian mechanics that describe “正常” objects moving around at “正常” speeds.

When we get closer to the edges of our sensory modalities, we have to modify our sciences to describe the reality as we sense it. These modifications lead to different, and possibly incompatible, theories. When we ascribe the natural limitations of our senses and the consequent limitations of our perception (and therefore observations) to the fundamental nature of reality itself, we end up introducing complications in our physical laws. Depending on which limitations we are incorporating into the theory (e.g., small size, large speeds etc.), we may end up with theories that are incompatible with each other.

Our argument is that some of these complications (和, 希望, incompatibilities) can be avoided if we address the sensory limitations directly. 例如, we can study the consequence of the fact that our senses operate at the speed of light as follows. We can model Brahman (the noumenal reality) as obeying classical mechanics, and work out what kind of Maya (phenomenal reality) we will experience through the chain of sensing.

The modeling of the noumenal world (as obeying classical mechanics), 当然, has shaky philosophical foundations. But the phenomenal reality predicted from this model is remarkably close to the reality we do perceive. Starting from this simple model, it can be easily shown our perception of motion at high speeds obeys special relativity.

The effects due to the finite speed of light are well known in physics. 我们知道,, 例如, that what we see happening in distant stars and galaxies now actually took place quite awhile ago. A more “advanced” effect due to the light travel time15 is the way we perceive motion at high speeds, which is the basis of special relativity. 事实上, many astrophysical phenomena can be understood16 in terms of light travel time effects. Because our sense modality is based on light, our sensed picture of motion has the speed of light appearing naturally in the equations describing it. So the importance of the speed of light in our space-time (as described in special relativity) is due to the fact that our reality is Maya created based on light inputs.


Almost all branches of philosophy grapple with this distinction between the phenomenal and the absolute realities to some extent. 不二 Vedanta holds the unrealness of the phenomenal reality as the basis of their world view. In this article, we showed that the views in phenomenalism can be thought of as a restatement of the 不二 postulates.

When such a spiritual or philosophical insight makes its way into science, great advances in our understanding can be expected. This convergence of philosophy (or even spirituality) and science is beginning to take place, most notably in neuroscience, which views reality as a creation of our brain, echoing the notion of Maya.

Science gives a false impression that we can get arbitrarily close to the underlying physical causes through the process of scientific investigation and rational theorization. An example of such theorization can be found in our sensation of hearing. The experience or the sensation of sound is an incredibly distant representation of the physical cause–namely air pressure waves. We are aware of the physical cause because we have a more powerful sight sense. So it would seem that we can indeed go from Maya (声音) to the underlying causes (air pressure waves).

然而, it is a fallacy to assume that the physical cause (the air pressure waves) 是 Brahman. Air pressure waves are still a part of our perception; they are part of the intellectual picture we have come to accept. This intellectual picture is an extension of our visual reality, based on our trust in the visual reality. It is still a part of Maya.

The new extension of reality proposed in this article, again an intellectual extension, is an educated guess. We guess a model for the absolute reality, 或 Brahman, and predict what the consequent perceived reality should be, working forward through the chain of sensing and creating Maya. If the predicted perception is a good match with the Maya we do experience, then the guesswork for Brahman is taken to be a fairly accurate working model. The consistency between the predicted perception and what we do perceive is the only validation of the model for the nature of the absolute reality. 此外, the guess is only one plausible model for the absolute reality; there may be different such “solutions” to the absolute reality all of which end up giving us our perceived reality.

It is a mistake to think of the qualities of our subjective experience of sound as the properties of the underlying physical process. In an exact parallel, it is a fallacy to assume that the subjective experience of space and time is the fundamental property of the world we live in. The space-time continuum, as we see it or feel it, is only a partial and incomplete representation of the unknowable Brahman. If we are willing to model the unknowable Brahman as obeying classical mechanics, we can indeed derive the properties of our perceived reality (such as time dilation, length contraction, light speed ceiling and so on in special relativity). By proposing this model for the noumenal world, we are not suggesting that all the effects of special relativity are mere perceptual artifacts. We are merely reiterating a known fact that space and time themselves cannot be anything but perceptual constructs. Thus their properties are manifestations of the process of perception.

When we consider processes close to or beyond our sensor limits, the manifestations of our perceptual and cognitive constraints become significant. 因此,, when it comes to the physics that describes such processes, we really have to take into account the role that our perception and cognition play in sensing them. The universe as we see it is only a cognitive model created out of the photons falling on our retina or on the photosensors of the Hubble telescope. Because of the finite speed of the information carrier (namely light), our perception is distorted in such a way as to give us the impression that space and time obey special relativity. They do, but space and time are only a part of our perception of an unknowable reality—a perception limited by the speed of light.

The central role of light in creating our reality or universe is at the heart of western spiritual philosophy as well. 宇宙缺乏光线的不只是您已经关掉了灯的世界. 这的确是一个宇宙缺乏自身, 一个不存在的宇宙. It is in this context that we have to understand the wisdom behind the notion that “该地是, and void'” 直到神使光线是, 说 “要有光。” Quran also says, “Allah is the light of the heavens.” The role of light in taking us from the void (虚无) to a reality was understood for a long, 很久. Is it possible that the ancient saints and prophets knew things that we are only now beginning to uncover with all our advances in knowledge? Whether we use old Eastern 不二 views or their Western counterparts, we can interpret the philosophical stance behind special relativity as hidden in the distinction between our phenomenal reality and its unknowable physical causes.


  1. Dr. Manoj Thulasidas graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology (个人所得税), 马德拉斯, 在 1987. He studied fundamental particles and interactions at the CLEO collaboration at Cornell University during 1990-1992. After receiving his PhD in 1993, he moved to Marseilles, France and continued his research with the ALEPH collaboration at CERN, 日内瓦. During his ten-year career as a research scientist in the field of High energy physics, 他与人合着过 200 出版物.
  2. 爱因斯坦, 一. (1905). Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper. (On The Electrodynamics Of Moving Bodies). Annalen der Physik, 17, 891-921.
  3. Radhakrishnan, Š. & Moore, ç. 一. (1957). Source Book in Indian Philosophy. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 纽约.
  4. Chisolm, Ř. (1948). The Problem of Empiricism. The Journal of Philosophy, 45, 512-517.
  5. Allison, ħ. (2004). Kant’s Transcendental Idealism. Yale University Press.
  6. Rynasiewicz, Ř. (1995). By Their Properties, Causes and Effects: Newton’s Scholium on Time, 空间, Place and Motion. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 26, 133-153, 295-321.
  7. Calkins, M. W. (1897). Kant’s Conception of the Leibniz Space and Time Doctrine. The Philosophical Review, 6 (4), 356-369.
  8. Janaway, C., ed. (1999). The Cambridge Companion to Schopenhauer. Cambridge University Press.
  9. Schmitt, Ř. (1959). Husserl’s Transcendental-Phenomenological Reduction. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 20 (2), 238-245.
  10. Thulasidas, M. (2007). 虚幻宇宙. Asian Books, 新加坡.
  11. Electromagnetic (EM) interaction is one of the four kinds of interactions in the Standard Model (Griffths, 1987) of particle physics. It is the interaction between charged bodies. Despite the EM repulsion between them, 然而,, the protons stay confined within the nucleus because of the strong interaction, whose magnitude is much bigger than that of EM interactions. The other two interactions are termed the weak interaction and the gravitational interaction.
  12. In quantum field theory, every fundamental interaction consists of emitting a particle and absorbing it in an instant. These so-called virtual particles emitted and absorbed are known as the gauge bosons that mediate the interactions.
  13. Feynman, Ř. (1985). Quantum Electrodynamics. Addison Wesley.
  14. Thulasidas, M. (2007). 虚幻宇宙. Asian Books, 新加坡.
  15. Rees, M. (1966). Appearance of Relativistically Expanding Radio Sources. Nature, 211, 468-470.
  16. Thulasidas, M. (2007á). 为无线电源和伽玛射线暴管腔围油栏? International Journal of Modern Physics D, 16 (6), 983-1000.


All great books have one thing in common. They present deep philosophical inquiries, often clad in superb story lines. Or is it just my proclivity to see philosophy where none exists?

1984, the immediate story is of a completely totalitarian regime. Inwardly, 1984 is also about ethics and politics. It doesn’t end there, but goes into nested philosophical inquiries about how everything is eventually connected to metaphysics. It naturally ends up in solipsism, not merely in the material, metaphysical sense, but also in a spiritual, socio-psychological sense where the only hope, the only desired outcome of life, becomes death.

I think I may be giving away too much of my impressions in the first paragraph. Let’s take it step by step. We all know that totalitarianism is bad. It is a bad political system, we believe. The badness of totalitarianism can present itself at different levels of our social existence.

At the lowest level, it can be a control over our physical movements, physical freedom, and restrictions on what you can or cannot do. Try voting against a certain African “president” and you get beaten up, 例如. Try leaving certain countries, you get shot.

At a higher level, totalitarianism can be about financial freedom. Think of those in the developed world who have to juggle three jobs just to put food on the table. At a progressively subtler level, totalitarianism is about control of information. Example: media conglomerates filtering and coloring all the news and information we receive.

At the highest level, totalitarianism is a fight for your mind, your soul, and your spiritual existence. 1984 presents a dystopia where totalitarianism is complete, 不可撤销的, and existing at all levels from physical to spiritual.

Another book of the same dystopian kind is The Handmaid’s Tale, where a feminist’s nightmare of a world is portrayed. 这里, the focus is on religious extremism, and the social and sexual subjugation brought about by it. But the portrayal of the world gone hopelessly totalitarian is similar to 1984.

Also portraying a dark dystopia is V for Vendentta, with torture and terrorism thrown in. This work is probably inspired by 1984, I have to look it up.

It is the philosophical points in 1984 that make it the classic it is. The past, 例如, is a matter of convention. If everybody believes (or is forced to believe) that events took place in a certain way, then that is the past. History is written by the victors. Knowing that, how can you trust the greatness of the victors or the evil in the vanquished? Assume for a second that Hitler had actually won the Second World War. Do you think we would’ve still thought of him as evil? I think we would probably think of him as the father of the modern world or something. 当然, we would be having this conversation (if we were allowed to exist and have conversations at all) in German.

Even at a personal level, the past is not as immutable as it seems. Truth is relative. Lies repeated often enough become truth. All these points are describe well in 1984, first from Winston’s point of view and later, in the philosophically sophisticated discourses of O’Brien. In a world existing in our own brain, where the phenomenal reality as we see it is far from the physical one, morality does lose a bit of its glamor. Metaphysics can erode on ethics. Solipsism can annihilate it.

A review, especially one in a blog, doesn’t have to be conventional. So let me boldly outline my criticisms of 1984 以及. I believe that the greatest fear of a normal human being is the fear of death. 毕竟, the purpose of life is merely to live a little longer. Everything that our biological faculties do stem from the desire to exist a little longer.

Based on this belief of mine, I find certain events in 1984 a bit incongruous. Why is it that Winston and Julia don’t fear death, but still fear the telescreens and gestapo-like police? Perhaps the fear of pain overrides the fear of death. What do I know, I have never been tortured.

But even the fear of pain can be understood in terms of the ultimate fear. Pain is a messenger of bodily harm, ergo of possible death. But fear of rats?! Perhaps irrational phobias, existing at a sub-cognitive, almost physical, layer may be stronger than everything else. But I cannot help feeling that there is something amiss, something contrived, in the incarceration and torture parts of 1984.

May be Orwell didn’t know how to portray spiritual persecution. 幸亏, none of us knows. So such techniques as rats and betrayal were employed to bring about the hideousness of the process. This part of the book leaves me a bit dissatisfied. 毕竟, our protagonists knew full well what they were getting into, and what the final outcome would be. If they knew their spirit would be broken, then why leave it out there to be broken?