‘Analogy of a windowless room’ revisited

2015-07-09 06:00

“IN this real world that exists outside the room, there are things we know to be physical, things that are supported by facts, and there are more things...”

What is this “real world” outside our minds? Physical reality? If we learn a bit about the nature of physical reality from topics like quantum mechanics, uncertainty principle, dual nature of particles, quantum tunneling, quantum entanglement (Einsteins “spooky action at a distance”), etc., we soon realise that the nature of physical reality is rather non intuitive in terms of ordinary everyday experiences.

But then, maybe ordinary experiences only really develop a feeling of familiarity because they are repetitive. We get used to things that happen often. When we analyse them, what do we really actually understand? How do we perceive things? Are we not really only recognising familiar patterns of information but that’s all they really are: familiar. Physical reality becomes familiar if it is repetitive but you don’t really know anything about it. Your concept of something is still in your head. We think conceptually. We see what we look for, recognise what we know.

How can you know anything for sure if the very nature of physical reality is so indeterminate, as per quantum mechanics’ uncertainty principle? How do you understand physical phenomena if the very act of observing them cause them to change? How does a particle tunnel through an energy barrier? What causes cosmic expansion? What’s the difference between dark energy and magic? Something conjured up to explain what drives and accelerates cosmic expansion?

You can only know things in terms of your mental concepts of them. You can’t escape your own head really. We are all limited by the walls of our minds! Our capacity to understand. Some may have more windows and see more than others but in the end the only difference would be how sophisticated the mental concepts appear to be.

Search Internet for the “shut up and calculate” interpretation of physical reality. The physicists recognise better than us lay people that all they can really understand is their mathematical models and as long as they can accurately predict the physics they are happy. Trying to interpret as in “making sense” or truly “understand” they leave that to the philosophers. If all we can really understand is our mental concepts and modeling we haven’t really got that far with science at all, did we?

To believe that science will bring us all the answers to all the questions at some point in future is just another belief and not unlike religious beliefs. It’s just belief in Science. There is no scientific proof that science can produce all answers to all questions. You have to believe that blindly.

Tjaart Lemmer

Marina Beach

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