Monday, August 31, 2009

Marauding Mirages 8/31/09

The popular notion of an antithesis between appearance and reality has exercised a very powerful influence on scientific and philosophical thought.

Ernst Mach
Welcome, whoever you are.
Hurry and get your note book ready because September is coming and that means all the quotes will be from DB The Vagabond.
Are you really sure that what you're looking at right now really exists? Are you sure that, if it does exist, that it exists in the form and state in which you see it? Furthermore, are you sure that things you can't see really exists just because you have been told they do?

We know there are atoms because mathematicians and phycisists tell us so. They must exists because, even though they can't be seen, the calculations of all the scientists prove they're there. Ernst Mach, a distinguished 19th and early 20th century physicist and philosopher doubted the existence of atoms. His theories influenced many scientists, including Albert Einstein. If he was right it means revolutionizing the whole practice of chemistry.

There are some current physicists working on a theory which would render an object invisible by refracting all light away from it. So far they have managed to make it transparent. But they're still busy.

That poses another question. Are you sure that just because you can't see something or have any evidence of it that it isn't there? A simple argument of the empiricist would be that if it exists there must be evidence of it somewhere and if no evidence can be found then one has to conclude it doesn't exist, Does that mean if the object is rendered invisible it no longer exist? Well, an interesting side observation those scientists made is that, even though the object is transparent and may become invisible, if their experiments are successful, they can't make its shadow disappear. That brings us to another question. Are we living with the shadows of things that are there even though we can't see them? Are we still in Plato's cave staring at the shadows and not seeing the reality behind us? That's a scary idea.

Unless, perhaps, no matter how grotesque the shadow may be, the invisible reality that casts it is a benevolent thing. But, how do we know? How de we measure or identify the invisible? Only by how it behaves. In other words, how it interacts with things we can observe. Ah, but physicists tell us that the process of observing things makes them change their behavior. Is that also true if we attempt to observe things we can't see? And are the invisible things the ones that are changing the behavior of the visible things? There are metaphysical twists to these questions.

A NASA Astrophysicist was asked if he was depressed by the fact that there are so many unanswered questions. He responded that on the contrary he was excited. I don't like foolish law suits against me, but I don't mind unanswered questions, unfinished business, a little chaos in my life. It reminds me that I always have something to do.

I have books on scientific issues: astrophysics, calculus, anthropology, chaos theory, the philosophy of science, genetics, as well as history, religion, psychology, other subjects of a philosophical nature, a few novels and probably some trash. I dearly wish I could get to Walmart to buy a new desk lamp to replace the one that broke so that I can get on with my reading, like a good boy should.

(What's an actor doing reading books? I thought all actors were dumb.)

I hope you made it over the roots and rocks, in and out of the caves and around the boulders of today's entry. These are subjects that require more thinking and writing about. I also need more studying.

DB Vagabond
Send a nice juicy blessing out to someone.


Rose~* said...

Great post, DB - you are in fine form once again. An open mind will see many things that are not visible, but a closed mind will always want proof.

Maire said...

What a great post! I've never thought actors are dumb :>) We have too many friends who are artist's who are some of the most intelligent, multifaceted people we know.
Have a wonderful Day!
Hugs, Maire

Rose said...

Great post. Some people need more proof than just a man's word and writings..........

Hugs, Rose

Martha said...

Sending blessings to you! And by the way, you are welcome to attend my blog parties all week long when it's convenient for you - ah, the beauty of blogging :-)

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I look forward to the September DB quotes and quips :o)

Beth said...

One of the best things about life is that there is always more to learn! Hugs, Beth

Gerry said...

I have long been fascinated by the idea that there are invisible realities only suggested to us by certain means as in near death experiences I would see glimpses of what seemed to be a transformation out of the body of an essence we call soul, spirit, but in my dreams sometimes it would appear as points of light defused to an uncontained presence slowly moving upward. I wondered how these defused spread out lights could be our soul, but through if the essence was released from the body, who knows what form it might take? I would sometimes feel such impatience at being confined to a very ponderous slow traveling body, when it my dreams I could fly. I read once of a young girl who jumped out of airplanes complaining of being confined on earth getting a brain tumor and dying young as though she had freed herself from the body she found too confined to linear space. Gerry