Archives for posts with tag: Reality

What WE know about the reality WE are speaking about drives ME to the following ‘inkling’:

We are living inside a three layered reality.

The ‘real’ one, the ‘perceived’ one and the ‘result’.

We ‘measure’ reality using our conscience. Through our senses.
Very much like when we gauge a length using a tape measure.
We apply the tape measure over the length and ‘read’ the number.

We apply the standards we’ve been groomed into over the underlying reality and we decide according to those standards.

Then we attempt to deal with the consequences of our decisions.

“Sheer hatred of the regime”….

Who’s painting the pictures we’re hanging on our walls? Who chooses them? Who has to make do with the ‘aftermath’?

We learn about what we call reality by
analyzing the information we acquire through our senses.

We.
We, the human people.
We, the conscious human people.
We, because nobody has ever been able to become conscious – as in aware of their own self, by their own. Alone…

Learn.
We are not the only ones who are able to learn.
Our dogs learn our ways. And we continuously learn about more and more living organisms being able to learn. And to remember what they have learned. To fine tune their behavior according to the circumstances into which they happen to live.

What we call reality.
First and fore-most, reality is a concept. We call it ‘reality’. And many other names…
Believers call it ‘god’, scientists call it ‘physical world’ and the scientists who happen to believe are convinced that by studying the reality they will eventually divine the will of the Lord.
The believers being convinced that whatever exists, is here because the Lord wished it into existence.
So, basically, the main difference between the believers and the nonbelievers is the fact that the believers are convinced that the ‘out-there’, the ‘source of it all’, has a conscience of it’s own. A will of it’s own…

By analyzing.
We have been able to build our conscience – our ability to ‘observe ourselves while observing other phenomena’ (Maturana, 2005), because we have a big enough brain, the ability to share complex and meaningful information using language and the ability to put in practice some of our wishes/thoughts through the use of our hands.
At a certain point in its evolution, human conscience has become sophisticated enough to need explanations. It was no longer satisfied with mere ‘connections’ – If… then…, it had started to wonder about why-s. ‘Why does this happen as it does?’ ‘Will it happen again tomorrow?’
Using our by then already established ability to speak up their minds, our ancestors shared among themselves these ‘anxieties’. Discussed them around the fire-place. Started to analyze. The reality. What they perceived to be real. The ‘thing’ which continuously generates the circumstances in which we – all of us, have to make do.

Information.
In order to analyze, the analyst – each and everyone of us, has to separate the meaningful information from the surrounding noise. In order to do that, we have started by coining the very concept of (useful/meaningful) information. As being different from ‘noise’. The difference consisting, obviously, in us being able to find its use and/or pinpoint its meaning.

We acquire.
Information is acquired on an individual basis. For an ‘event’ to become information, it has to be ‘noticed’ by an individual. It has not only to be sensed but also identified as useful/meaningful. Different from ‘noise’.
Which process of identification implying methods which had been agreed upon by the members of the community. Music would be a good example of how various groups of people make the difference between sublime/abhorrent and white-noise. While ‘use of language’ is a very poignant example of how people can both share information and mislead one-another.

Senses.
Everything that we know, had entered our mind through our senses.
Before setting it aside as information or discard it as noise, we have to get in contact with it as a sensation.
Or as a thought. A conjecture. A few pieces of information which put together have given birth, inside our individual mind, to new information. To ‘something else’ which passes the threshold into being information. At least according to our own mind…

Which transforms our minds into our famous sixth sense.
In the sense that our individual minds are capable of building ‘sensations’ on their own. Starting from information that has already been stashed in our memory.
Which brings us to the third reality.

We have – in the sense that we have agreed upon its existence, the surrounding reality. The things we – as in most of us, consider to be real. The mountains we climb, the air we breathe, the pebbles which happen to sneak into our shoes. The reality which is being studied by science. The reality to which we have access through our senses. Our minds and our sense enhancers – scientific instruments, included.

We also have the ‘out-there’. The things we know we’ll never be able to grasp. During our lives! The things our followers might be able to figure out…

And each of us has their own reality.
Individually built even if ‘carved’ from the same (type of) material as the reality shared by the rest of us.
Individually built even if using more or less the same (culturally accrued) methods.
Individually built even if neither of us is alone.

H.M. Romesin, 2005, The origin and conservation of self‐consciousness: Reflections on four questions by Heinz von Foerster

A planned after-thought.
Rumsfeld is both wrong and right. There are unknown unknowns but they are no longer unknown since we speak about them…
Which actually proofs the limits of our languaging.
The imprecision of the manner in which we gather, share and analyze information.

The title is misleading enough to become an abomination!

What Leschziner said during the interview was:

what we term reality is entirely a construct of our nervous system.”

Guy Leschziner is right.

And the guy who wrote the title is an a$$hole!

In the sense that for that person, ratings – a.k.a. ‘money’ – are far more important than presenting an as accurate as possible version of reality…

Hence the public belief that ‘media are not to be trusted’.

A reality created by the greed with which we, as a cultured species, attempt to transform everything into money…., power…, or any other kind of ‘influence’/relevance we happen to covet….

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2022/feb/06/guy-leschziner-reality-is-entirely-a-construct-of-our-nervous-system

http://perflensburg.se/Berger%20social-construction-of-reality.pdf

Three truths about what ‘science’ means.
First part, We.

According to Heidegger, there are two kinds of truths.

A. A proposition is ‘true’ if what’s being said there is in perfect correspondence with reality.
B. A proposition is ‘true’ if the proposition encompasses everything the ‘communicator’ knows about the subject at hand.

‘OK, you promised us a discourse about science and here you are babbling about truth…’

Impatient as always!
How do you determine whether something being said, a proposition, is in (perfect) correspondence with the reality of the fact described there?

To be able to do that, you need first to determine the reality itself.
You know what’s being said – more about that later, and, if you are to determine whether what’s being said is true, you now need to know the truth itself.
How are you going to do that?
You either know it already or you proceed to determine that particular truth.

I’ll leave aside the ‘already known truth’ and proceed towards the ‘future truth’.

A particular individual has two possible approaches towards finding out a ‘new’ truth. A piece of ‘true’ information which is new for that particular person.
Consult a reliable source or investigate the reality.

‘Consulting a reliable source’ brings us back to square one. How do you determine whether a source is reliable or not….
‘Investigate the reality’… Easier said than done!

How do you do that? How do you investigate the reality in a reliable manner? How do you determine the truth of the matter when ‘things’ are a tad more complicated than touching a stove to determine whether it’s hot or not?

You use the scientific approach?
Start from the scientific data base which already exists on the subject(s) closer to your object of interest then proceed using the proven scientific method of trial and error? Emit a hypothesis, try to prove it, formulate a theory and then challenge your peers to tear apart the results of your investigation?

Results you have chased being convinced from the beginning that you’ll never reach the ‘pinnacle’?
Convinced from the beginning that the ‘absolute truth’ – even about the merest subject, is out of reach?
For us, mere mortals, anyway?

‘But if ‘absolute truth’ is out of reach, then how can we determine whether the simplest proposition is actually true?
And why continue to bother about the whole subject, anyway?!?’

Before attempting to find an answer to your question, let me formulate another one.

Let’s consider that you have reached a conclusion about something. That you are in possession of ‘a truth’. How are you going to share it? With your brethren/peers?
I must remember you at this stage of our discussion that language is beautiful but rather inexact. Are you sure that you’ll be able to communicate everything you want to say? To cover every minute aspect of the truth you have just found?
So that the proposition you are about to put together will be in absolute correspondence with the piece of reality you have just discovered?

You are not going to use language at all?
You’re just going to point to your discovery? And let everybody else to discover the truth for themselves?
And how many are going to take you seriously? To pay attention? To what you have pointed?
And how many are going to suspect that you just want to take their focus off what’s really important? To lead their attention away of what you want to keep under wraps?

I’ve got your head spinning?
Then you must understand my confusion. I’m so deep in this that I have to go back and read again what I’ve been writing…

So.
‘Science’ tells us that the ultimate truth is out of our grasp, linguistics/theory of communication tells us no messenger will ever be able to be absolutely precise nor convey the entire intended meaning … what are we going to do?
Settle down and wait for the end to happen to us?

OK, let me introduce you to an absolute truth.

WE ARE HERE!

Who is here?
‘Us’. We are here.

What are we doing here?
‘Are’. We are here.

Where are we?
‘Here’. We are here!

I’ve been recently reminded that mathematics, the most exact language we have at our disposal, is based on a number of postulates. On a small number of axioms – pieces of truth we consider to be self evident, which have constituted a wide enough foundation for mathematics to become what it is today.
But mathematics is far more than a simple language. It is also a ‘virtual space’. A space where special rules apply. A space where our thoughts move according to certain and specific ‘instructions’. A space where we enter holding our arms around a problem we need to solve and which we exit, if successful, with a solution inside our head.

A little bit of history.
Our ancestors had a problem. A class of problems, actually.
How to build something – a house, a temple, a boat, and how to ‘manage’ property – arable land, in particular, but also crops and other ‘stocks’. Problems easier to formulate, and solve, using numbers.
To solve this class of problems, some of our ancestors have invented ‘mathematics’. Had ‘discovered’ the self evident truths – axioms, and then ‘carved’ an entire (virtual) space using the axioms as the foundation upon which they, and those who have followed in their steps, have built – and continue to build, the scaffolding of rules which keep that space ‘open’.

Through thinking, our ancestors have carved a space in which to solve some problems they have encountered in the ‘real’ world…

‘Please stop!
I don’t understand something.
Do you want to say that mathematics is not real?’

To answer this question, this very good question, we need to settle what ‘real’ means.
To us, at least…

Let’s examine this rock. Is it real?
Why? Because you can feel it? If you close your eyes, I can make it so that you experience the same feeling by touching something else to your stretched out fingers than the original rock. In a few years, I’ll be able to produce the same sensation in your brain by inserting some electrodes in your skull and applying the ‘proper’ amount of electric current. What will ‘reality’ become then?

Forget about that rock, for a moment, and consider this table.

Is it real? Even if it’s not as natural as the rock we were analyzing before?
‘Artificial’ – as in man made, starting from natural ‘resources’, might be a good description of the difference between a table and a ‘simple’ rock. Both ‘real’ in the sense that both imply consequences. Your foot will hurt if you stumble in the dark on either of them. Regardless of the rock being natural and the table happening to be artificial…

‘But what about things which are not of a material nature?
Are they real?’

Are you asking me whether ‘metaphysical’ objects – God, for instance, are real?
Then how about ‘law’. Is it real? As an aside, does law belong also to the metaphysical realm? Alongside God? Who determines which thing belongs there?

Or have you glimpsed the fact that ‘truth’, the concept of truth, is a metaphysical ‘object’?
Something which, like God, has a ‘real’ side but makes no sense (to us) unless we think about it?
Something which we have extracted – someway, somehow, from the surrounding reality – where else from? – then ‘carved’ a virtual space around it? So that we may examine it without the distractions of the rest of the ‘real’ world?

Or have you glimpsed also that even the concept of ‘reality’ is a figment of our self-reflecting conscience?

For knowledge to become actionable, it has to be trusted.
It has to be believed as being true!

In order to cooperate with somebody, you need to trust that person.

But trusting a person is far more complicated than believing that a piece of information is true!

Evaluating a piece of knowledge is a uni-dimensional business. That piece of knowledge either corresponds with (what is considered to be) reality – it is ‘true’, or it doesn’t. Hence it is false.
And it’s only after you have satisfied yourself about an information being true that you may start to ‘own’ it. To act upon it.

When it comes to trusting a person, you are confronted with a bi-dimensional endeavor. Which makes it a real problem.
In order to be able to cooperate with somebody, you need to be satisfied on two accounts.
That that person is qualified enough for the business at hand AND that that person ‘means well’.

Not that simple, is it?

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I argued earlier that truth is a convention.
And that the Truth exists but will never be known. Not in its entirety, anyway.

Then what are we left with?
How can any of us decide what is true and what is not?

First of all, any convention needs three things. The two convening parts and the object of their convention.

‘So, you want us to believe that truth is a make-believe?!?’

That it can be, yes!

And the further from the real truth – from reality itself, that convened about truth is, the worse the fate the believers will eventually have to face.

The first example which jumps to my mind is the fate of Bernie Madoff and ‘his’ investors.
Bernie and each of the investors had convened a truth. That his investment fund was sound.
Consider what happened to each of them. To each of the investors and to Bernie Madoff himself.

I’ll come back.

For whatever reasons, vaccine arrived later in some countries.
For whatever other reasons, some people had chosen to ‘opt out’ in those countries where the vaccine had been plentiful.

The results have been the same.

More than half of Vietnam’s people are currently under lockdown.
New daily cases have surpassed 10,000 and deaths are being reported in hundreds. Of Vietnam’s nearly 16,000 COVID-19 fatalities, more than 99% have come in this latest wave
.”

https://www.npr.org/2021/09/16/1037768399/long-weekend-becomes-9-week-lockdown-for-ap-vietnam-reporter
https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/pennsylvania-coronavirus-breakthrough-cases-vaccinated-unvaccinated-20210914.html

“We arise as human beings in the experience of observing ourselves observing.”
Humberto Maturana, The Origin and Conservation of Self-Consciousness, 2005

Thinkers are divided when it comes to ‘reality’.

Some of them, the self styled ‘scientists’, study reality as if it was an ‘exterior’ fact.
At the other end of the spectrum, other people are convinced reality is nothing but a projection/illusion.

To me, this whole thing is yet another example of ‘which came first’, only simpler. Way simpler…

You need a chicken to lay an egg to hatch a chicken. This is indeed complicated…

‘Reality’, on the other hand, is, first and foremost, a human concept!

There was no such ‘thing’ as ‘reality’ until one of our forepersons had come up with the word/concept!

‘And where did that foreperson came ‘in’ from, huh?!?’

Have you noticed the scare marks?

The ‘thing’ we identify as being ‘reality’ had existed since… the Big Bang… I don’t know….
But I do know that nobody called it that – or thought of it in that manner, until somebody did!
And until the peers of that person agreed to use the term and to think about ‘it’ – the ‘thing’, not the word – in that manner.

‘Does this mean that we made ‘reality’?

No, not exactly made it… more about this later…
Only ‘found’ it and ‘measured’ it.
Named it, to put it in a simpler form.

As for who made it… this is another good question.

God?
I argued, in my last post, that ‘God’ – the concept, is yet another human artifact.
The only bridge we could trust to take to the future.

I don’t know, with absolute certainty, whether the whole thing we call ‘reality’ has been made (is constantly being made, as according to the Ash-Arite tradition) by an ‘outside’ agent or it had evolved naturally. But I do know that if our ‘reality’ had been made by somebody then a ‘small’ question begs to be asked.

Who made that somebody’s reality?

I can accept the notion that we are lab rats. Playing in a pen made by some experimenter. Just as we do with/to our lab rats. But exactly as I’m trying to find an answer to ‘how did we come about’, the moment I’ll accept that we’ve been made by some agent will be the moment I’ll start wondering about ‘who pulled this creative agent out of the proverbial hat!’.

Let’s stick with the naturally evolving reality! The alternative is far too complicated…

‘But if had evolved naturally, then nobody made it… right???!’

…No…, not exactly, anyway!
It may have evolved naturally but that doesn’t preclude any factors – and even agents, from chipping away at it!

‘What?!?
Are you gonna make up your mind?
As in once and for all???’

No, I can’t promise you anything like that!
My mind will never be ‘made up’.
My understanding is a work in progress.
I’m constantly adjusting my opinions according to the evidence ‘presented’ to me by ‘reality’.

‘And what about this constantly evolving reality? What/who drives this ‘evolution’?’

What do you see here?
A ‘Nature Made’, volcano whose flanks had been eroded by naturally occurring factors.
The debris had been transported to lower altitudes, by other naturally occurring factors and then transformed into fertile soil by a different class of equally naturally occurring factors.
The factors belonging to the first class had been rain, freeze, wind and gravity while in the second class we point out algae, microbes, plants and animals.
On top, literally, of these natural occurrences we find the consequences of our own actions. Of our own agency.
Of our own choices!

The buildings you see, the farms you know are there, the roads people take when going from their houses to their farms… and so on, up to the top of the mountain. Where we find snow full of other ‘evidence’ of our own existence. Soot, various industrial dust, etc., etc.,…

So. We live at the intersection between the natural evolution of things and the consequences of our previous existence/choices.

We live in a reality increasingly influenced by our own existence.
Are we truly aware of this?

Are we conscient enough?
Enough to realize how much of our reality is of our own doing?

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Reality is tricky.

It includes us. Each of us!

Yet we perceive it as being ‘exterior’. As including the others but not ‘me’. ‘I’ determine what’s real and what not, hence I’m above ‘mere’ reality.

We perceive ourselves as being distinct from the (rest of the) reality yet each of us continuously shares substance and energy with it. We breathe, eat, drink, excrete. We bask in the sun whenever we can during winter and use wind and water to cool ourselves down during hot summer days.

We feel overwhelmed whenever we think about it yet we constantly chip away at it. We build shelters and roads, we grow crops and raise animals, we dig up minerals and transform them into consumer goods. In time, we had displaced most of the ‘Nature’ we have evolved in and replaced it with ‘Man Made’.

Berger and Luckmann had famously – yet somewhat convolutedly, demonstrated that ‘reality’ was a (social) construct.
That what we know about the reality and what we have built based on that knowledge are the consequences of our common effort.

What I’m interested in is the ‘complicated’ manner in which we, each of us, interact with ‘reality’.

We grow up learning about reality. From those around us.
During this process, we simultaneously accumulate knowledge and develop the instrument with which we gauge reality. Our consciences.
Along with this process we also change, together with our teachers and siblings, the very reality we learn about.

Interesting, isn’t it?

We depend, for our dear life, on something we don’t fully understand.
We extract sustenance from it and throw back at it the results of our cravings.
Since our individual knowledge is severely limited, we depend on others – our peers, to complement our understanding of what’s going on around us. Yet in our attempts to fulfill our cravings we mislead some of our siblings.

Reality has been shaped by life from the very first moment. Only in those times, the process was driven exclusively by ‘needs’. The living things of yore did change their reality only they were doing exclusively what they had to in order to survive.
Nowadays, while the rest of the living world continue to follow the ‘time proven traditions’, we – the conscient, and presumably rational, humans, transform the reality according to our wishes.
While we don’t exactly understand what’s going on….

Then how come we’re so snug about the whole thing?

And what’s the meaning of the Adenium Obesum I used to illustrate this post?
I live in Romania. The Desert Rose is a native of the Arabian Desert. Yet one grows, and flowers, in my home.
Only because I afford to heat my ‘shelter’ during winter. And to spend some of my time caring for it.
I don’t really need that plant in order to survive. Yet I’ve changed the reality around me to such an extent that that plant is able to thrive. Almost 4000 km straight North from its native desert….
I’ve been taking care of it for some 4 years now. And I’ve learned only 5 minutes ago that its sap is toxic… What was I telling you about us not being fully aware of our actions?

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We happen to be born.

Then we start exploring the world our parents – and all their ancestors, have prepared for us.

At first, we’re like sponges. We absorb, unconsciously, everything which takes places around us. Some according to what our parents had in mind for us, some not.

After a while, on our own and/or under our parents’ supervision, our attention starts to focus. More and more of the things which are stored in our memory are learned. Increasingly a consequence of focused labor and less and less a happenstance.

Almost simultaneously, we start adding our transformative efforts to those already effected by our predecessors. Minute at first, more and more significant as we become more experienced.

At some point, we reach something called ‘maturity’.
That’s when ‘play’ ceases being a legitimate manner of learning for us.
We are allowed to continue playing but only for recreational purposes…

At least we’re still allowed to explore… but from now on, we’re expected to do it in a serious manner. According ‘to plan’, that is.
From now on, wandering is considered to be a sin!

‘You’re an adult, for God’s sake. Act like one!’

I’m sure most of you have experimented things. Either as an experimenter or, mostly in school, as a learning apprentice.
How many of those experiments had been ‘blind’? As is neither you nor anybody else present had any idea about what was going to happen?
And how many had a more ‘modest’ goal? Just to convince the ‘students’ that the ‘theory’ was valid?

If you think of it, the second sentence covers quite a lot of ground.
From the second grade teacher pouring water over some sugar ‘Look, it has disappeared’, to the scientists anxiously watching the gauges at the CERN laboratory…

A few short generations ago, people had to decide whether that plant was edible or not. And had developed methods to accomplish that task. They survived, right?
Nowadays we design new plants/animals and ‘cook up’ fancy snacks to be sold in supermarkets…

During our parents’ ‘watch’, Popper had come up with a test for what belonged to the realm of science – and had to do with ‘reality’.
Nowadays, we brag about being able to create VA. As in virtual reality… Enhanced virtual reality, even!

Nothing good or bad about all this.
For as long as we keep our eyes open… and, at least one of them, focused on the ‘hard’ reality… that which makes us possible!

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