Subjectivity vs Objectivity vs Evolution.
http://www.lightouch.com/subjobj.htm:(Maureen Gamble 1998):
“Even Popper’s “World 3” suffers this shortcoming of the objectivity test in that the contents of books, scientific theory or critical arguments change from century to century as our experience and perception of the phenomenological world change. Examine his example of proof for the existence and value of World 3 with a slight change. Imagine that all machines and tools are destroyed, and all our subjective learning, including our subjective knowledge of machines and tools and how to use them. Further imagine that all the books written since 1000 AD were also destroyed. Our ability to reestablish our civilization would be severely impacted by the inaccuracy and distortion of how the remaining information defines reality. We would, in effect, adopt the shared reality of that millennium as the basis for our facts, until the subjective experience of enough individuals and their interpretation of those experiences brought about another shift in our “scientific” awareness. We can quickly see that factual information is not, of itself, objective, but is a consensual description of subjective experiences.
British physicist-mathematician-astronomer Sir James Jeans (1877-1946) cogently defined science as “the earnest attempt to set in order the facts of experience” (142). He later observed that “Reality is in some sense constructed by the mind, not simply perceived by it, and many such constructions are possible, none necessarily sovereign” (143). Albert Einstein was abundantly aware of this aspect of scientific method. He observed that “our theories are inventions of our minds that we use for practical purposes, and that allow us to make comprehensible what is sensorily given. Fundamentally, in theory building we invent, and from our inventions infer, and then test for accuracy, economy, logical coherence, and scope” (34). It then follows that “theoretical systems”, an important inmate of Popper’s World 3, is actually a product of mind, and is inherently subjective by its very nature.
Those physicists, like Niels Bohr and Nick Herbert, who leapfrogged over Einstein to develop the concepts of quantum mechanics even propose that the distinction between subjective and objective is functionally non-existent. In The Holographic Universe, Michael Talbot explains that “there is compelling evidence that the only time quanta ever manifest as particles is when we are looking at them. For instance, when an electron isn’t being looked at, experimental findings suggest that it is always a wave” (34). Herbert comments that this interpretation has sometimes caused him to imagine that behind his back the world is always “a radically ambiguous and ceaselessly flowing quantum soup” (Talbot, 34). Reality, that ultimate test of objectivity, may only be an individual subjective experience created by our participation and observation. Our collective reality may be constructed and rearranged by our thoughts, intentions and expectations. In the light of this “new science”, the relative value of subjectivity versus objectivity, especially for the purpose of scientific investigation, seems to be as meaningless as the pre-Columbian debates over whether there were monsters at the edge of the known world or just a bottomless pit.”
My world is similar to the caveman’s world or my cat’s. Propelled by the evolution, it increased in complexity but it didn’t switch from the subjective to objective . Animal’s world is not dual , it is only mode they have, not subjective (sad dog is all materialistic), and not objective (the love for the master, fear and hunger are probably as real and brain produced as his food.) The animal has only one world- its own. It is real and reliable enough for the survival. I guess the more social is the animal the more “objectivity’ is in its world.
The same is with the infant- non-dual world- just with the human brain, comparing to the animal’s, the building of the understanding spreads like a wild fire. The relationships between emotions, behaviors and perception stimuli, quickly created by the repetition, are seen by an observer as the infant making sense of the world. More of the same and we talk about object permanence, then naming, and very soon the language- first receptive – at 6-12 months, and at 12 months – talking. When we observe this process – and, as a pediatrician, I am doing this daily for the last 40 years- we compare it instinctively or scientifically- to our own making sense of the world.
It is the process of splitting the world from nondual, animal type of the world, into our world, with the division into the personal world, “subjectivity’ and the real world, “objectivity”. This process is very gradual- both in phylogeny and ontogeny. This is the process, which is absent in animals, or almost absent? We do not remember going through it – is it a coincidence , that we do not remember the events occurring in the first two years of life?
The subjective world for the animal “feels’ like real, only world. The same for a child, the same for a caveman , for a shaman in trance, for a schizophrenic with hallucinations, and probably during the dreaming.
But the child grows fast in the hypersocial, human world. She learns from mom, dad , others. The behaviors, the images repeat themselves, becoming consistent, they are beginning to feel normal and “out there” . The child learns to use this world, rely on it, it is fool-proof, real, only world.
In comparison the subjectivity recedes towards the personal , emotional, infamously unreliable place. “ I like it today, I’ll hate it tomorrow, I remember today, I’ll forget this tomorrow- it is annoying and everybody has different take on it. We see things differently, we disagree,” nobody understands me” etc. And now the science and the technology drive more nails into the coffin of the subjective world. If a drunk shaman sings the story, it is one thing, but if millions of white-coated geniuses tell their story, how can you compare this with your toothache.” These are facts and here are you with your misery…and they do not mix.”
It is not enough to say that the observer influences the results of observations. It is not enough to suspect that we do not know about things but only about observations ( it means somebody’s observations). It is more: the things are like they are observed. The philosophers often go half way: “we can not pierce through the veil of the perception”, the “noumena”: they are unobservable phenomena, “everything is seen through the lens of the our senses”. How about : “there is nothing beyond the veil”, there are no “noumena”, “the buck stops at the lens” .
The things are how we see them. Seeing creates the things. There is my universe. This universe tells me that you created a similar one, and you and you and you. But there is no Nobody’s universe.
My Universe is all I have.
It is rather strange place: it is real, solid ,scientific , but it changes. When I learn something it expands, for example- the rhetoric analysis is new thing, also my new tennis shoes. When I forget something- some chinese words, for example, it shrinks. All is real, no division into subjective and objective, all real, but some things are more solid than other, some more reliable than others. The beauty of it is its simplicity; to accept this concept , you do not need to reject anything or believe in anything.
It is just my weird interpretation of the evolution of the nervous system, of my understanding of the complexity .
Every organism builds its own world with its nervous system. The reason for its existence is to direct non-random actions of the organism. Non-random actions (one can call them behaviors) have evolutionary advantage over the random actions. All the organism does is to try to improve these behaviors. The nervous system has to remember them and then attempt to improve them, failure to do it means death. Therefore the organism is programmed to be rewarded for birth and punished for death. The improved behaviors have to “remember’ all previous stages , therefore are by definition more and more complex.
This part is simple as we have the reasonable language to describe it. Of course for this sequence to make sense, the events prior to the creation of the nervous system, have to follow the same algorithm. Even more tricky is the more recent history , when more complex organisms started to reflect on themselves and name different behaviors as they would have possessed different nature. This sure pleased the complexity principle, but it created an awful philosophical and spiritual mess.
I guess people always treated solid things as solids and reliable and shifty things as “subjective”. The division of the world into objective and subjective was the biggest mistake of all. As the initial quotation suggest , Einstein and other scientists, all knew it. But why normal people do not? Nick Herbert felt like behind his back was a flowing soup of quanta. It is not radical enough. Nothing moves behind, the things, or whatever it is behind, do not move. The time , the space, the matter, and the movement are the categories or dimensions or whatever we decided to name and use them as such.
In “The book on the taboo against knowing who you are” Alan Watts tells us about similar world, but more esoteric, mystical and eastern, based on Vedanta. I say that only personal worlds exists, he says that there is no person. He hoped that just a small shift in understanding can change us and the world. He was famous, wrote 20 books, he died in 1973 and nobody knows about him anymore. No shift happened, for sure.
For millennia we were not bothered much by not knowing what we do not know, why now?
The reasons I come up with are feeble and strange. One is that the developments in neuroscience and the knowledge about the evolution of the nervous system made it accessible for such a dilettante as me.
The other , even stranger, almost messianic, is that we urgently need a new metaphor. This new metaphor has three parts:
1. Our understanding of the world is just a metaphor, like the fish’s understanding of the fast , huge object with the open jaw and a lot of teeth, is just a metaphor. For the fish this metaphor doesn’t appear in the language but in the form of the neural network in its brain, and it is also fish’s real world, the only one it has. In our understanding we’ll keep going further and deeper and faster and more beautiful and this is the world for each of us.
2. Beyond our understanding it is an” immobile soup of pre-quanta” and is not behind my back but all around when I half-close my eyes. It has no characteristics, not eternal, neither powerful, like math equation endlessly complex as a possibility, but completely determined, as this is this, and not that, and I am I, and not you. It may even not exist, maybe this is this because we call it “this”? It (literally!) does not matter.
3. In a paradox , the image of our universe being determined and immobile, allows for the image of the journey. We name and explore and categorise and it looks like a trend. It looks like our fate/purpose/system is to figure things out. This trend is the clear part of the evolutionary algorithm, “improve behavior or die”. It can , in different words, ( Llinas’” I of the vortex”) be extended to the evolution of the pre-neuron systems , even pre-life systems.
Can it also be told to the modern world, through the metaphor, through the language powerful enough to save us? If we take away our real, crazy, dying world, and leave humans with Herbert’s personal observations in front, and quanta soup behind everybody, will it be enough? Or in my version, if we leave everybody with his or her personally build world, which we share with others, with the soup of pre-dimensional, immobile forces around us when we half-close the eyes , and nothing else? Linda says that the metaphor of “there is no Nobody’s Universe” doesn’t work. Ok, but how to replace it?
The other metaphor is of the tapestry of our personal worlds, connected like brain’s neurons, all of them, since the beginning of the Universe until the end. There is really no movement there just the view changes–like the image of the fractal equation- this is this and that is that.
Well, so what? If we accept this crazy hypothesis, that here is no nobody’s Universe and
everybody has personal real, solid Universe , so what? Does it help us in the real world, does it tells us what to do, how to act?
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