interesting question came up today with a friend..
she saw the pink light reflected off of the water….
is the world that we see, a reflection ?
I would say not exactly a reflection, but nor is the world that we see the world as it is.
So much of what we get to see comes through the filters of our senses, our distinctions, our paradigms, our expectations, our desires, our fears, our beliefs, our understandings. Everything influences everything else. Pure objectivity is a myth, and we can use the idea of objectivity as a guiding star (not a destination but a direction of travel).
So there is a sense in which what we get to experience has to “bounce off” or “reflect” off all the things identified in the previous paragraph (and a few more besides in most of us) before we get to experience it – so in this sense, yes it is a reflection, not quite the thing itself, and informed in large measure by the thing itself.
Yep – something very much like that.
It seems that we all start out with a very similar set of processes.
It seems that we start out making distinctions based on experience, and our brains build up models of what it is that is being experienced. Initially they are experiences of pattern without relationship or label, then we add relationship, then labels, and the levels of relationship and label expand over time and experience.
It seems that we all start out accepting many of our distinctions unconsciously from the “culture” we happen to find ourselves in.
It seems that by the time we get to languaging awareness of the sort we are sharing now, our experience of the world is that of the “software” model of the world that our brains create and present to the “software” entity that is us, that we experience as the “qualia” of being.
To get to this point, we all start out making assumptions like – what we experience is what is actually there. Then some of us get more exposure than others to experiences and experimental results that clearly show that what we experience is only ever an approximation to what is actually there, but that in most circumstances the approximation is close enough to reality that we cannot distinguish the differences.
Once one starts to examine the biochemistry and neurophysiology of how we sense, and how brain processes information, the view we have of our experience starts to alter significantly.
When one starts to use instruments to look very closely at reality, the common sense interpretations that work well at the ordinary scale of human experience start to break down.
Ernest Rutherford demonstrated that what we think of as solid matter is mostly empty. He demonstrated by firing neutrons at gold leaf that atoms are mostly space. If we could magnify them to human scale, where a neutron was the size of a basketball, an electron would be the size of a marble orbiting a mile away. Then others looked closely at the structure of neutrons, and they seem to be made of other stuff that is again mostly space and folded in multiple dimensions (perhaps 7 more dimensions than we are used to dealing with in terms of our 3 dimensions of space and one of time.
So the more we look closely at the assumptions that we started out making as children, the less sense that they make.
So yes – “even though that reality can’t be accessed directly, you know that it exists because you know we are experiencing life through these filters” is precisely correct. And we know about the structure of the filters from the results of many levels of experiment that have been performed and analysed by many thousands of scientists. And in my case I have checked for myself all of the sets of experimental results that I consider really critical to any way of looking at how the world might actually be operating beyond the model of it that I usually experience.
In the realm of ordinary every day experiences that most people have had throughout human history, our senses and the models we build from them are extremely accurate and very useful most of the time. And sometimes, those models fail. We are experiencing such failure modes more frequently as the level of information technology in our societies continues to increase exponentially and creates environments that are outside of those our ancestors evolved in, or we grew up in.
Understanding this intellectually, and dealing with in practically (on a day to day basis) are two very different things.