Home > Perception, philosophy, Relativity > Sun, Earth, and Understanding Idealism

Sun, Earth, and Understanding Idealism

January 16, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

No description of the relation between the Sun and Earth is complete without including the geocentric view as well as the heliocentric view. This is not to suggest that the archaic views of astronomy should be considered the equal of the modern view, but that there was ever an alternative to the modern view in the first place makes the universe impossible to describe accurately by leaving it out.

Even without suggesting that we might someday find a third alternative to both geocentric and heliocentric astronomy which we can scarcely imagine now, we can still appreciate that the fact that it took thousands of years for heliocentricism to be widely accepted is a testament to how relative relativity really is. Physics makes us feel brilliant for understanding that the relation between Sun and Earth is conserved regardless of which way we choose to interpret it locally, but that brilliant feeling distracts us from the mystery of why there could be or should be any interpretation at all. What is a frame of reference, and what is doing the framing?

Another thought experiment to consider, in the vein of ‘What is it like to be a bat?’…what is it like to be the Sun? The world from a star’s point of view would be one in which everything that could be detected would already be illuminated – but without any apparent connection that you are the source of the illumination. So it is with consciousness. Everything that we see is reflecting the capacity that we have to see. It cannot be seen on its own, or else we would not need eyes (holes in our head would suffice).

The novice philosopher will say that it is a case of “If a tree falls in a forest…does it make a sound?”, but this is not about epistemology, it’s about ontology. The epistemological realm is concerned with verification. “Does it make a sound or not?”. The ontological question is much deeper…it asks, what is a sound and is it even true to assume that a tree falling ‘makes’ one.

In light of the many clues that we have, from Heisenberg’s uncertainty, to relativity, to incompleteness, we can begin to see how perception is not only a passive receiving of objective truth, but a participation across multiple frames of perceptual reference. In an ironic twist, the scientific project that has brought us to a weltanschauung which values only objective facts has found only facts with no objects and objects with no facts. Meanwhile, the one incontestable fact, our own perception, has been overlooked completely, like the Sun losing touch with it’s light completely and accepting that it is part of the empty space and surrounded by planets that must light themselves.

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