All throughout our lives we are told to dream. We know that dreams don’t necessarily reflect reality, but they serve as a powerful source of inspiration which can sometimes allow us to change our realities. The reason why dreams are so important to us is because they allow us to experience situations that are beyond what could occur in real life. But how can we be sure that our thoughts and dreams don’t directly influence reality? Or that “reality’, as we commonly understand it, isn’t real?
The answers to these questions are mind-bogglingly complex as they challenge us to magine concepts that should be impossible to comprehend by entities inhabiting our combination of three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension. The resultant ontological debate can be generally grouped into realist and anti-realist positions. Realism is the philosophical school of thought that suggests the existence of an objective reality with which we communally interact.
Within realism there are different perspectives that can be argued that deal with varying degrees of correlation between our perception of reality and the true objective form of reality. These different branches of realism stem from different fundamental beliefs egarding the nature of this relationship. So-called “naive realism” , also known as direct realism, is the belief that our senses accurately detect mind-independent reality therefore our perceptions of reality correlate directly with the form of the objective reality.
Another form of realism known as “scientific realism” takes a different approach by assuming that the universe exists in a way that can be described by science (the ability to describe an object through science verifies its existence) and that scientific objects and knowledge exist independently of the mind. On the opposite side of the spectrum we have “anti-realism” which challenges the existence of an objective existence or reality. Ann-realists with respect to objective reality hold the belief that a mind-independent world does not exist and everything we experience or perceive is simply a construct of our subjective consciousness.
Having been born into an era where technology reigns king, it could be said that I’m predisposed to siding with scientific realism, as the manner by which I Judge a theorys validity is inevitably linked to scientific methods (probability, etc.. ). The igitalization of the world has resulted in a generation that places great faith in numbers and causality, where for an answer or explanation to be considered correct it requires causal proof.
Computers have shown that everything can be deconstructed into mathematics, and as such it is easy to assume that because something can be defined by science, that the scientific definition is the correct definition. For example a living creature can be expressed as a series of functions describing its size, shape and even personality, but this does not mean that the living creature is simply a construct of numbers. At a glance, scientific realism seems difficult to refute. Explanations are derived from logical reasoning processes that seek to demonstrate causality.
In the world of science, everything is bound by universal rules and laws that are consistent. Unfortunately, this is also where the argument breaks down for me. Scientific realism relies on the assumption that science is objective and can accurately represent true reality, however the validity scientific inquiry as a mind-independent construct is not guaranteed. Science tells us that our conscience is a product of physical processes. Assuming that science is orrect, this would necessitate a pre-existing physical construct or at least the genetic coding for a construct from which we produce our theories.
Essentially we would be limited to making “discoveries” within a predefined scheme, meaning scientific inquiry is a biased mechanism of measuring reality since the method of discovery is restricted to what our brain is capable of processing. Thus, theories that are scientifically correct force us to reject the notion of the absolute validity of science. When compared with scientific realism, naive realism’s foundation in the human senses seems like an oversimplification stemming from hubris. The fundamental assumption of naive realism is that reality exists for humanity.
This is not explicitly stated in a description of direct realism philosophy, but the argument that humans see the world exactly as it is almost implies that reality was created for our experience. It is no secret that humans have limited abilities through which to perceive the world. First of all, we rely on only five major sensory mechanisms (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting). And of these five mechanisms, in comparison to other species, human sensory abilities are extremely poor.
The mechanism we rely on the most is our sense of sight. However, not only are humans confronted with ocular issues such as macular degeneration or cataracts, but even if our eyes were to be completely free of defect, we would still be limited to seeing the world through the detection of visible light (a tiny range of frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum). Notice that the aforementioned limitations deal strictly with the mechanisms of the eyeball itself and do not include issues that can arise from errors mental processing.
The more we delve into the limitations of our perception, the more credence I grant to the idea of a world that exists very ifferently from the way we believe it to, which would have to be defined through a “higher”, more objective mechanism than our senses alone. I acknowledge that my line of reasoning in dismissing naive realism is flawed as the underlying assumption deals with the improbability that the error-prone human condition could sufficiently detect a large enough portion of true reality to be considered a viable explanation.
The concept of nothing existing is difficult to ponder as we have no foundation from which to base a mental picture. Normally when trying to imagine nothingness, the ind tends to begin with blackness since blackness (the absence of light) is generally how we think of emptiness or nothingness. Unfortunately we generally run into the same issue as when trying to picture the concept of “infinity’ where we can only envision “more”, rather than absolute “infinity’.
Though our assumption of the color of nothingness does not directly imply that our reasoning about the form of nothingness is flawed, the fact that we envision nothing as black belies the correlational bias from which we are founding our notions. The anti-real position suggesting that only our consciousness exists is made all the more difficult to ontemplate due to the inability to picture nothingness as it prevents us from being able to use relative reasoning (there is no benchmark to relate to).
For this reason, arguments about the form of non-existence are more easily substantiated by logical means. In Jim Holt’s book Why does the World Exist? , he refers to the question, “Why is there Somethin g? Ratner than Nothing? ‘ and then describes the theories or explanations for why there might actually be Nothing, rather than Something. He does an extensive Job explaining the different ways of conceptualizing Nothing, and it s from these explanations that I came up with my own pro-ex nihilo theory.
While I still contend that all theories regarding genesis are impossible to definitely prove, I propose that we are in a constant state of Nothingness, but the form of Nothingness which we experience is Something (reality). For this to be possible, our Something would either have to be Nothing already, or be in a form that is reducible to Nothing. Similar to the Infinite Parallel Universes theory, I am drawn to arguments where Something and Nothing exist simultaneously, as this eliminates entire fields of debate as to whether Something or Nothing came first.
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