Is it a bird? Is it an aeroplane? No, it is a photo from the ‘other side’. In yesterday’s post I alluded to my meanderings in a private solipsistic universe. In answer to a comment from John Zande, I asserted that this solipsistic space is real and that I could show a flower. OK, a weird flower, but still: quod erat demonstrandum.
We are both looking at a flower that was grown in the other space that only I can access. Wait, if you are looking at this flower, aren’t you accessing this space it a little too? No, not really. It isn’t because you have seen a photo of the Great Wall that you have run the gauntlet of a thousand pesky souvenir sellers at its base. But if you see it, at least you know that it exists. And if it exists, than it must be real.
You can see the flower from the other side and therefore it exists and is real. Not just in my solipsistic space, but in yours too. As in the beautiful poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:
What if you slept? And what if, in your sleep, you dreamed?
And what if, in your dream, you went to heaven
and there plucked an strange and beautiful flower?
And what if, when you awoke, you had the flower in your hand?
Ah, what then?
I could print this flower in 3D and fedex it to you. You will hold it in your hand. Ah, what then?
Is it real? What is reality? It is when you can see it. Seeing is believing. Do you believe? It is when you can touch it. You just did (assuming FedEx delivered). So, is it real? Is it real when you can go there? I can take you there, and if I show enough photos, you can go there yourself. Are we able to go into Andy Warhol’s world? Into Nietzsche’s mind? Can we go to Disney Land?
Reality is that which we can experience through our senses. I can bring my reality to you and share it. We all share our realities all the time.
OK, I am confused. Are you?
Is there an absolute reality? One that does not depend on our confused, biased and solipsistic interpretation? Any belief system will tell you that yes, there is an absolute reality. And then they will give wildly differing accounts.
Does science point at an absolute reality? Certainly the logic of science, its verification through measurement and its ability to predict, would suggest that there is such an absolute reality. But we can’t easily experience much of it directly – all we can do its repeat the scientific experiments for ourselves and be convinced of its integrity. That makes it unique, in that doesn’t require belief.
So science is real. But is it absolute? Is it independent from human observation, i.e. human consciousness? I may be mistaken, but I think that the answer is: no. Human consciousness defines the measures in which reality is defined and experienced. No consciousness, no measures. No consciousness no experience.
I’m going to make a bold statement that I will regret: Reality is a feature of consciousness. It is not absolute.
Because there is no absolute reality, reality becomes a mesh – and a mess – of solipsistic experiences that we share and agree, or disagree on.
What is left? Existence. I didn’t mention that.
Sorry if I have confused you. I’ll make it up: a flower for you to enjoy.