Tuesday, March 6, 2012

MIND EXPANDER: Defining objective reality using concepts?

It is maybe like a child defining a Bird as we know it after seeing it fly in the sky for 1 minute as: "A creature in a shape of an aeroplane (sorry had to use another concept) that always has its wings outstretched and flies in the west direction. It does nothing else besides this." Now the child has defined a bird is by observing a fraction of its behavior, from a great distance, for just a period of 1 minute.

There is a plethora of things not included in this definition. Lets compare this to an ecologist who studies the bird, its habitat, its food, hunting patterns, sleeping patterns, its skeletal structure, physical characteristics like color, weight, feather texture, its odor etc. How would you suppose the ecologist would define it? He would probably write 2-3 books about the bird.

But even this definition albeit millions of times more detailed is still no match for what the bird 'Actually IS' across time. Firstly, it is impossible to know the subjective experience of the bird or what is feels like for the bird from moment to moment. Secondly, the ecologist can only study one thing at a time. While studying the food habits of the bird, he might have missed some biological changes the bird underwent because he cannot conduct biological experiments simultaneously. Now, you might say there are sophisticated computers that monitor 100s of aspects simultaneously 24x7. The information would be collected no doubt but who will make sense of this information.

That is the same as our brain just processing 1 billionth on sensory input at a time. Now this same brain would attempt to understand this information serially going through one aspect at a time. By then the changes across the other 99 parameters have been missed. Now if he moves to the 2nd aspect, again he'll miss out on 99 parameters including the 1st one which might change again during that interval. Even if 1000 people are studying it and supercomputer gathers data about 1000 characteristics, its still no match.

Firstly, are there only 1000 characteristics, characteristics may differ at different levels too. At one level, you may have order and have chaos at another level of magnification. For example a woven mat or human skin may appear to be great order in its cell arrangement or warp and woof. But on magnification of 100x, things look super messy, if we further magnify 10000X again everything may look beautifully ordered. How many such magnification levels are you going to monitor? what about each atom in this bird? What about smaller particles like quarks and the ultimate strings and ALLLLL of the levels inbetween?

What about the format of this information received? (Human beings can process images faster than numbers or words) Should it be just a readout of numerical values? Some sort of abstractions like graphs which would again involve A LOT OF approximations because the graph needs to be quantized into a range that an average human can easily understand?

What is the resolution of monitoring in time? Is it a billionth of a second, trillionth? Lastly, the BIGGEST BIGGEST bottleneck in this system, are 1000 people enough to make sense of this even if they are working 24x7 for 10 years? (Considering all human limitations, our working memory can hold only 9 objects on an average, we read left to right and average reading speed is 300wpm)

Broader questions:

Now what about the unknowable subjective experience? What if there is information in other planes that neither we nor our instruments can detect? What about how the bird relates to everything else in the ecology? How would we know if the bird has extra sensory perception since everything we are recording is within the scope of our 5 senses. Can there be parallel universes overlapped with ours and the bird interacts with both simultaneously? What about the time before the bird was born? What was its nature at that time? What was the bird a million years ago? (The supercomputers are only digging out patterns for 10 years). How would the most intelligent man in the world fit into this picture?

FINALLY, we can study the patterns of things till our senses peel off, use any amount of technology etc, but no matter how many patterns we find, the unchanging essence of the thing is UNKNOWABLE and this is what is REAL REALITY. Our concepts are therefore just extreme simplifications and extreme tunnel vision when we think at this height.

Now what do we mean by understanding something? What is knowledge in this picture? When faced with an infinity, how much ever we know, we still don't see any end? Its almost like we are always in the center no matter what we do. That is why generally adults after a certain age close up most of their perception into a small set of rigid beliefs which are assumptions simply set in stone and live their entire life from this perception goggles. This can get rid of the discomfort that comes with 'Not knowing'. within this perception goggles they see 'knowledge' and think its real. In an adult consciousness, each person is doing that, so each one considers different things as knowledge depending on the structure of these assumptions. So what we call as knowledge is just a subjective feeling we get in the absence of contrary evidence to our beliefs. A person may think he knows all that there is to life. Another person may think he knows nothing. There is nothing intrinsic about our conventional definition of knowledge. But when we extrapolate this to ultimate knowledge then we see that every single thing in this world is actually unknowable.

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