mardi 2 octobre 2012

Time out

So there was this program on TV the other day, an American one for that matter, where they would explain Einstein's Time-Space theory and once again it was so obvious to me that all that we were told was unfolding in my brain and nowhere else.

They were speaking about the interdependence of time and space and how motion affects the duration of time according to the speed at which any subject may move into space and eventually the conclusion was that each and every one of us has its own specific time because there's nothing like a universal time independent of any subject.

That would have been the theme of the post which eventually I didn't write with the Japanese engraving and the notion of the time gap that exists between individuals who see each others with a near unfathomable but yet existing delay.

While Einstein's theory completely contradicts the Newtonian concept of time as a whole coherent universal medium that is the same to every one, it doesn't oppose Kant's finding that time is an a priori form of our sensibility, what is called our inner sense, as well as space (our outer sense).

The intuition that the world doesn't and cannot exist without a subject in which it can be represented doesn't change one iota of our daily lives and the same goes with Einstein's findings, that is a fact. Yet it doesn't imply that it is irrelevant. Just these notions exist only in our brains where eventually it all boils down to a flux of electrons running wild from one neurone to another one via our synapses. 

Since the idea that the world exists only as long as we're here as mirrors to reflect it is new to some readers, it seems implausible and totally eccentric because it goes against our naive and immediate common sense and perception but are quantum mechanics and Einsteins's theory more likely and easy to understand when taken at face value?

Another way to consider these notions and possibly make them easier to grasp is to take memory as a starting point of our perception of reality. But first, who can seriously deny that memory - which is some kind of time storage - is nowhere else to be found but in our brains? Which also indicates that time is an inner capability of ours and doesn't exist outside us as an independent entity in which we would be bathing. It is not. So when we're talking of time be it yesterday or 3 million light years, these are just data that are being processed by our brains. I look out of my window and I cannot see any three million light years or even three minutes ago. I just can feel  a floating permanent present.

Also, the reason why we haven't the slightest memory of what happened to us when we were some days, some months or even some years old is that our brains weren't developed enough to serve as mirrors to a world which then simply didn't exist. Of course we now can retrospectively reconstruct what was then, just it is the output of our imagination but we simply personally don't know what happened. Our brains then were less developed than stomachs and kidneys, not ready yet to embrace much of any object.

And now we're getting closer to Buddhism with this notion that the world exists only in the frame of a dual relation subject/object which means that when we die, it is not the world that we leave "behind" us, quite the opposite, when we die the only world that exists to us disappears along us and the whole universe collapses as well. And also, the idea that others will continue to live when we're dead is an absurdity and a contradiction since "the others" are part of our own personal world which contains them as objects. When I pass away, I don't leave the world, the word goes with me.

The world as an illusion doesn't concern the present actual world in which my heart beats, my lungs breath and my brain sleeps but relates to the idea that it is eternal and that it was here before I was born and that it will survive me. It won't.




(Charles Trénet ne pensait certainement pas à Kant ni à Einstein quand il a écrit cette merveilleuse perle, mais elle illustre à la perfection ce qui est ici exposé : le monde entier est dans la noix : ouverte la noix le monde disparaît. As simple as that.)

33 commentaires:

Flocon a dit…

The song is by Charles Trénet but his recording apparently isn't available on YouTube

Une noix
Qu'y a-t-il à l'intérieur d'une noix ?
Qu'est-ce qu'on y voit ?
Quand elle est fermée
On y voit la nuit en rond
Et les plaines et les monts
Les rivières et les vallons
On y voit
Toute une armée
De soldats bardés de fer
Qui joyeux partent pour la guerre
Et fuyant l'orage des bois
On voit les chevaux du roi
Près de la rivière

Une noix
Qu'y a-t-il à l'intérieur d'une noix ?
Qu'est-ce qu'on y voit ?
Quand elle est fermée
On y voit mille soleils
Tous à tes yeux bleus pareils
On y voit briller la mer
Et dans l'espace d'un éclair
Un voilier noir
Qui chavire
On y voit des écoliers
Qui dévorent leurs tabliers
Des abbés à bicyclette
Le Quatorze Juillet en fête
Et ta robe au vent du soir
On y voit des reposoirs
Qui s'apprêtent

Une noix
Qu'y a-t-il à l'intérieur d'une noix ?
Qu'est-ce qu'on y voit ?
Quand elle est ouverte
On n'a pas le temps d'y voir
On la croque et puis bonsoir
On n'a pas le temps d'y voir
On la croque et puis bonsoir
Les découvertes.

Ned Ludd a dit…

"On y voit des écoliers
Qui dévorent leurs tabliers
Des abbés à bicyclette"

De complete mauvaise foi, je poste ce vidéo par un des meilleurs humoristes des EU, Louis CK

Flocon a dit…

Ned,

If you're still around, I've found this piece that should be interesting to you.

I still haven't read it... tu es la première informée.

Anijo a dit…

Flocon,

You have explained quite clearly what we have been discussing for so long. But this is such an abstract notion that it is difficult for most people to understand.

Flocon a dit…

Anijo,

Comprendre the unusual requires a bit of intuition, pure reason has its limits and shuts the door to other ways of apprehending the world.

Some abstract notions are better understood - or just simply grasped - with the help of a little something that not every body is capable of, we all know that.

It is the reason d'être of poets (Charles Trénet in our case) and artists to lend a hand and help us open our eyes on something that they alone can see, nothing's new here and it also works with the idea I have been exposing on this post.

Anijo a dit…

Suffering is permanent, obscure and dark, And shares the nature of infinity.

Enjoyment is not permanent, nor is suffering... Like subject and object, both enjoyment and suffering are part of what we call life.

Flocon a dit…

The issue addressed here by Wordsworth is a metaphysical one and doesn't concern one's personal moments of pain and enjoyment which as you write are the fabric of everybody's life.

It is not even the issue of good and evil which is restricted to human beings but rather the very nature of existence and the reason why religions have come into existence.

Enjoyment and pain simply don't compare. The brightest moments of pleasure and enjoyment not only last for some minutes or some hours to the maximum but they are to pain and suffering what the weak gleam of a candle is to the almighty light of the sun.

Which kind of enjoyment can compensate for the loss of close relatives? Is there any kind of entertainment that can make up for 9/11, the drowning of 10,000 people in Japan 18 months ago or the torture and killing of her child to a mother?

Being in good health is the supreme good to every one and yet it doesn't make it feel and - when we think of it - we simply appreciate not to be sick. But the slightest stomach ache, sore throat or the sting of a bee just ruin our day.

And when suffering gets worse we very soon feel like we're in hell.

Suffering isn't limited to human beings, animals by the billions have suffered to death for hundred million years and they are by far much more numerous than we are.

Another indication that existence is hellish is the "natural" proclivity of humans to disregard animmals' suffering because they simply aren't humans. How foolish and selfish. Ask Gautama Buddha what he thinks about this.

The saint is a witness of the world suffering and he makes it his.

What we call enjoyment or happiness whatever is just the absence of personal suffering but to the less selfish, other's pains -to a certain extent - are h/h's.

Can you still be happy or in any state of peace of mind when you learn or remember of Troy Davis, Anne Frank or a child being abused and beaten to death by his own parents?

Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see

Every word of the quote by Wordsworth could have been written by Schopenhauer or Buddha.

Anijo a dit…

Flocon,
Of course you're right that at any given moment some person or animal somewhere is suffering.

Can you still be happy or in any state of peace of mind when you learn or remember of Troy Davis, Anne Frank or a child being abused and beaten to death by his own parents?

Well, I can't carry the weight of the world upon my shoulders.

The last time I went to the hospital I was in severe pain for some number of hours before they got around to giving me a shot of morphine. I was actually hoping I would just die rather than continue to feel the pain.

Now, it would have not made my pain any better to have other people worrying about me. The only thing that makes a difference is for someone to do something about it.

So one is either in the process of doing something for others, or in process of doing something for oneself. There needs to be a balance.

Flocon a dit…

re the episode in the hospital, one always wonders under these circumstances why it takes hours before someone decides to give a shot of morphine when it takes 5 seconds to a nurse to do the injection. And a dose of morphine doesn't cost hundreds of $...

I was actually hoping I would just die rather than continue to feel the pain.

So can you even imagine what it is like when pain is voluntarily inflicted upon someone who's being tortured in order to cause much more pain than the one you've been through to the point of becoming mad or die?

it would have not made my pain any better to have other people worrying about me.

Isn't that the very nature of tragedy?

I can't carry the weight of the world upon my shoulders.

This is another facet of the above mentioned tragedy that we're in a situation where at a given point we must forget others' pains and suffering when we want to enjoy some peace of mind and tranquillity. Inded we can't carry the world upon our shoulders.

Just saints do and that is precisely why they're saints and we're not.

For months I've wanted to write a post about the cosmic nature of suffering and I still am sure about the relevance of pain and the universe as a concept but I guess I've been infected too hard now by the lack-of-motivation virus...

One thing is sure yet and it is that Wordsworth knew what he was referring to, I know.

When you've understood what the principle of individuation is, you may well consider the world from another unexpected point of view...

Anijo a dit…

one always wonders under these circumstances why it takes hours before someone decides to give a shot of morphine when it takes 5 seconds to a nurse to do the injection. And a dose of morphine doesn't cost hundreds of $...

I don't know about in France, but here in the U.S. doctors are worried about being responsible for over prescribing pain medication. I guess they think some patients are faking the pain. So damned frustrating.


So can you even imagine what it is like when pain is voluntarily inflicted upon someone who's being tortured in order to cause much more pain than the one you've been through to the point of becoming mad or die?

I can only imagine. It would be such emotional and physical torture that one would surely enter a state that would be too nightmarish to even fathom..

When you've understood what the principle of individuation is, you may well consider the world from another unexpected point of view...

Thanks for the link. I'll read up on it tomorrow morning when my mind is a bit fresher.

Anijo a dit…

Well, Flocon. Very complex ideas. You have me doing a lot of homework.

Right now, I'm just working on the meaning of Will per Schopenhauer.

Flocon a dit…

Anijo,

An important point to remember is that line:

"Kant believed that space, time, causation belonged properly to the form imposed on the world by the human mind in order to create the representation".

This is fundamental and also the reason why it is said that there is a Kantian revolution.

Prior to Kant, people believed the world was here for us to contemplate and observe and that we were passive in the relation between the universe and us.

Not so did Kant find out. Our brain actually imposes its own templates and frameworks upon the world.

Incidentaly,the article you link to is one of the very first I translated into French since the one that existed on the French Wiki was simply pathetic.

What I wouldn't have done to impress you girl... ô_Ô

Anijo a dit…

Ha! ☺ ☺ ☺

I must say that I'm learning so much about philosophy from Shall We Talk thanks to you.

There was a time when linking to Wikipedia was laughable, but it has become a very valuable source of information these days thanks to people such as yourself. Sure, one has to verify what one reads on Wiki, but it's a wonderful source with which to begin research into most topics.

Ned Ludd a dit…

"when we die the only world that exists to us disappears along us and the whole universe collapses as well." That is also a product of our imagination, whatever that is or means.

"Kant believed that space, time, causation belonged properly to the form imposed on the world by the human mind in order to create the representation". The inverse also has to be included, i.e. our brain is the product of the exterior or say its environment which determines that it will create representation. So the world imposes itself in our hypothetical creations. "Our brain actually imposes its own templates and frameworks upon the world." The world also imposes its own templates and frameworks upon us, especially our brains.

We are simply adapted to the situation where we "imagine" things. This must have some survival benefit or it wouldn't exist. So, for the most part and for most of our species, the perceptions we have can be regarded as a real regard on a real universe, rather than just products of intuition, whatever that is. Certainly there exists some individuals who live in a world of illusions or delusions, but that doesn't affect our species as a whole.

It is the same with other animals who have adapted to their environment in other manners. They may not have the brain power we have, but they live their lives with the abilities they have.



Ned Ludd a dit…

Flocon, "Suffering isn't limited to human beings, animals by the billions have suffered to death for hundred million years and they are by far much more numerous than we are.

Another indication that existence is hellish is the "natural" proclivity of humans to disregard animmals' suffering because they simply aren't humans. How foolish and selfish."

It isn't foolish and selfish, it is part of the nature of our species. Lions don't care about the suffering of their prey. We evolved as omnivores and therefore predators. However, we also can reflect on our behavior, so I don't eat halal meat because the ancient rite inflicts primitive and unnecessary suffering.

As to herbivores, they devour plants, often alive, which may feeling suffering from that. Only plants with photosynthesis can live without devouring and causing suffering.

Ned Ludd a dit…

Anijo, unfortunately we are usually only concerned with pain when it is ours, or possibly that of someone close.

Under our current unequal economic system, we don't readily feel the daily pain of hundreds of millions of people who are living at subsistance level or actually slowly starving to death. Nor do we pay much attention to those, often children, who work in mines and other dangerous jobs and die before their time, or at least the time they would have if living in a developed country.

In the U.S., the Republicans are largely indifferent to the relative pain of the large number of poor they have created and even wish to cause more.

Flocon a dit…

Ned,

"for the most part and for most of our species, the perceptions we have can be regarded as a real regard on a real universe, rather than just products of intuition"

Of course I don't want to be unpleasant Ned but this sentence just indicates how much you reason like people used to prior to Kant's findings.

Here is what I wrote to Anijo a couple of weeks ago:
"Prior to Kant, people believed the world was here for us to contemplate and observe and that we were passive in the relation between the universe and us."

This is basically what you say in the aforementioned phrase if I'm not mistaken.


If it weren't for time, space and causality as a priori form of our sensitivity, what we would get out of the "real" universe would be similar to what we get when inserting a DVD into un lecteur de CD: shshhssiiiiiiiihhwwwwwwwwhshiiiiiisssssshhhhshshshshwwwwhshwhshwsqiiiwqwqwqwhhhhhhhshiiiiihhssssssssswwwwwwwiiiiwwwhhhhswwwwww ad infinitum.

Once again I have to direct you to the starting point.

It is our brains which gives its form to the universe as we know it, not the other way round contrary to the common naive spontaneous approach uneducated people have.

And again this is why it is spoken of the Kantian revolution.

Flocon a dit…

This issue that has been discussed for the last couple of months now belongs to the field of idealism, of which there are several forms.

The position I have presented from the beginning is that of Kant:

"... if I remove the thinking subject, the whole material world must at once vanish because it is nothing but a phenomenal appearance in the sensibility of ourselves as a subject, and a manner or species of representation."

One can find a forerunner of this idea in Galileo's The Assayer where one can read this sentence:

"I think that if ears, tongues, and noses were removed, shapes and numbers and motions would remain, but not odors or tastes or sounds."

The Wiki page on Idealism is well conceived and an indication that these ideas cannot be dismissed by ridiculing them.

Now, philosophy like maths or any field of knowledge may be intellectualy demanding and at some point requires some solid grounds.

Anijo a dit…

~Flocon
It is our brains which gives its form to the universe as we know it, not the other way round contrary to the common naive spontaneous approach uneducated people have.

~Douglas Adams
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and improbable.

Ned Ludd a dit…

Flocon, "If it weren't for time, space and causality as a priori form of our sensitivity" I think that is what I said in other words.

I didn't exclude Kant's idea, but suggested that it is incomplete and that there is also the "real" world from which our faculties are issued. So there is a complementary interaction. Of course our brains are limited, as are those of other species in different ways, which come from the evolutionary process.

So perhaps these inherent limitations make Kant's position more appropriate for our species and representation is our limit. I didn't subscribe to that idea that the world was here for us to "contemplate and observe" but that the state of our brain came from somewhere and must have some uses more than just that.

Believing that we can understand the exterior world may just be a side product, besides its functions which allow us to be able to find food and other things that allow us to survive. I don't know if thinking we can understand the world is important or not for that.

Flocon a dit…

Anijo,

Obviously Douglas Adams was on to something and probably aware of the metaphysical conundrum...

Flocon a dit…

Ned,

You probably know about Molyneux's problem but just in case.

Ned Ludd a dit…

I didn't know that problem, but the research seems to go against what I would have thought.

To lighten up your day, apparently more intelligent people drink more alcohol than others.

alcohol

A couple of more links that I will have to comment on later because I have to go at the moment.

Psychology Today

Savanna Principle

Flocon a dit…

Ned,

À propos du problème de Molyneux, j'ai lu (quelque part une fois et il y a longtemps) qu'un aveugle qui avait recouvré la vue, n'ayant évidemment aucune expérience de l'espace (visuel as opposed to tactile), avait l'impression que les gens qui s'éloignaient de lui rapetissaient littéralement.

He tought that people were actually shrinking since he had no notion at all of what perspective was.

Which is an indication that space and time aren't given raw data for us to adapt to but that we force time and space upon the world so that we can make sense out of what otherwise is totally incomprehensible.

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Pour ce qui est du principe de la savane, Jack London (je ne sais plus dans quel roman) suggère que le cauchemar récurrent et très fréquent dans lequel le rêveur se voit tomber vient du souvenir toujours vivant de nos ancêtres singes qui dormaient dans les arbres et qui parfois tombaient et étaient victimes des prédateurs (lions, guépard que sais-je?).

Quand j'ai lu ça il y a une dizaine d'années je me suis dit que c'était très plausible et un très beau thème.

Qu'en pensent les behavioristes?

Ned Ludd a dit…

Flocon, Here is an lecture about what we (don't)know that might interest you.

Optical Illusions Show How We See or I might add how we don't see reality.

Anijo a dit…

If Israelis and Palestinians should ever join arms, what a powerful and beautiful onion that would be.

Flocon a dit…

Ned,

The optical illusion article that your link leads to is fascinating indeed.

"we are not outside observers of nature defined in isolation."

Didn't I write something similar three weeks ago?:

"Prior to Kant, people believed the world was here for us to contemplate and observe and that we were passive in the relation between the universe and us. Not so did Kant find out. Our brain actually imposes its own templates and frameworks upon the world"

"You're not seeing the world covered in a blue blanket at all; you're seeing a world."

This is why I wrote that when I pass away, I don't leave the world behind me but a world (mine which is unique) disappears and collapses all together with me.

But then, nobody would believe me :-(

I know phenomenology has much to do with these notions but phenomenology is completely out of my understanding. Maybe someday shall I see the light (pun intended).

En attendant, voici d'autres illusions d'optique, moins scientifiques mais qui illustrent pourtant la même idée : It's our brain that forces its frames on the world, not the other way round.

Ned, if you've got some time left, maybe you can reread the comments on the Two slits on my head post and you'll see how much you've advanced in the understanding of Kant's transcendental aesthetics...

Flocon a dit…

Anijo,

"If Israelis and Palestinians should ever join arms, what a powerful and beautiful onion that would be."

Err... like here for example?

Are you OK Anijo? ;-) ☺ ☺ ☺

Ned Ludd a dit…

Flocon, The lecture I linked partially supports Kant. But it is likely that as a question of survival most or all of our species must have developed the same perception and interpretation of things like color perception. Those who didn't would have a disadvantage.

So we even if we don't sense the "real" world, we have a similar comprehension through our maybe inadequate senses. If that is the case, even when one of us dies, those remaining will still experience the world more or less as the deceased did. So there would be a continuation, even it is limited by the limits of our brain in interpretation.

Two questions come to me. One is, could there be a step in evolution that would give some of us a survival advantage, and two is do animals that have better eyes or better hearing, or sense of smell etc. perceive the world more accurately than we do?

Thanks for the compliment that I am learning something.

Flocon a dit…

Ned,

I totally accept your first two paragraphs.

"most or all of our species must have developed the same perception and interpretation of things like color perception"

Spot on! This is the very reason why Kant's aesthetics is called transcendental: it's universal.

"It is crucial here to remember that Kant talks of transcendental ideality and empirical reality of space and time the former in so far as they are not inherent to objects but only to our sensible intuition of them..."

--------

"when one of us dies, those remaining will still experience the world more or less as the deceased did. So there would be a continuation".

Here is a part of a comment I wrote on the two slits on my head post on September the 5th:

"Just, there are other human beings who carry on with them the representation of the world ad infinitum, hence the world is in a permanent process of continuation through death and birth".

Aren't we agree?

I'll return to your two questions but first it looks like I've been clumsy in the wording of my invitation...

Like is said on Wiki, good faith must be assumed from the interlocutor. I didn't mean to be offensive and you know it, so I apologize when I involuntarily harmed your feelings.

Flocon a dit…

Ned,

"could there be a step in evolution that would give some of us a survival advantage"

It already happened some hundreds thousands of years ago when homo sapiens emerged from the monkey species and developed its cognitive abilities.

Could it happen again? I cannot imagine what it would look like since what makes us different from the rest of other living creatures is our ability to reason, create concepts etc. What kind of progress could exist beyond reason?

--------

"Do animals that have better eyes or better hearing, or sense of smell etc. perceive the world more accurately than we do?"

They certainly do, no doubt about that but what they get are raw data and even if these date are 10 or 100 times more precise and informative than the one we can rely on, animals cannot process them with their feeble understanding and are just capable to use these data in order to live in the best possible harmony with their environment.

Ned Ludd a dit…

Flocon, I read again and I didn't find any offensive in your posts or anything that would hurt my feelings, and you know what a sensitive person I am.:)

Flocon a dit…

When dealing with a "fumelle" the wise man never too cautious will be cos' the wrath of the "fumelle" scares the hell out of the boldest heroes... ;-)